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Kansas National Guard helps fight fires with helicopters

By Kansas National Guard | Nov. 12, 2019

SALINA, Kan. – Two Kansas Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and eight Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation, based out of Salina are being deployed to support firefighting operations in Cheyenne County.

The helicopters are equipped with collapsible buckets that hold approximately 660 gallons of water. They will be used to drop water on hot spots that are difficult for ground crews to access.

The Kansas Air National Guard’s 284th Air Support Operations Squadron is also providing two ground-to-air coordinators to assist with aerial water drops.

Gov. Laura Kelly declared a disaster for Cheyenne County Nov. 9 due to grass fires sparked along US-36 near the City of Saint Francis.

The Kansas Division of Emergency Management in Topeka activated the State Emergency Operations Center Nov. 10 to coordinate state response to Cheyenne County. State agency partners that have reported to the SEOC are the Kansas Forest Service, the Kansas Fire Marshal, and the Kansas National Guard.

The Kansas Forest Service has one contract tanker that is also assisting with fire suppression.

The Kansas Highway Patrol is assisting local law enforcement with traffic control.