ARLINGTON, Va. – Hundreds of members of the National Guard from multiple states are supporting state and local efforts to fight the wildfires raging in California. Guard members on land and in the air are helping firefighters and first responders do their jobs, while Guard aircrews are helping map and fight the blazes.
As of Aug. 24, the California National Guard had more than 660 members in the fight. Aircraft include seven helicopters with water buckets, two C-130s capable of dropping 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in 5 seconds, and two MQ-9 drones to provide fire mapping and damage assessment.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection issued more than 270 California National Guard Soldiers protective gear to begin hand crew training at Camp Roberts Aug. 23 to support firefighting efforts. The Guard members will supplement CAL FIRE and CANG’s Joint Task Force Rattlesnake hand crews deployed to key locations such as the Carmel Fire, Jones Fire, Hills Fire and others throughout the state.
Also on the ground, members of the 132nd Multirole Bridge Company, 579th Engineer Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade, erected a four-bay improved ribbon bridge (IRB) at Cache Creek Canyon in Capay Valley so first responders can have a quicker, easier route to fight wildfires.
Members of the Nevada National Guard's 152nd Airlift Wing, also known as the “High Rollers,” activated July 29 to assist in California, with orders extended to Sept. 17.
Since arriving at Sacramento McClellan Airport in California July 29, the 152nd MAFFS eight aircraft made 12 drops and flew more than 14 sorties — dropping more than 35,000 gallons of retardant in about 20 hours of flight time. The drops supported suppression of the Stagecoach and Sites fires in Kern and Colusa counties.
“Our low-level tactical training prepares us for these missions,” said Maj. Tom Dorsett, 152nd MAFFS C-130 flight navigator. “Safety and accuracy is the priority.”
On Aug. 22, the Nevada National Guard also deployed two UH-72 Lakota helicopters and crew to California to act as "spotters" to help direct and report to firefighting aircraft.
The Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing also contributed two C-130 aircraft to dump fire retardant and help suppress the fires.
The California, Nevada and Wyoming National Guard contributed to this story.