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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2020

Utah National Guard Black Hawks help fight California fires

By Maj. Jaime Thomas Utah National Guard

WEST JORDAN, Utah — The Utah National Guard is sending two UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters and nine Soldiers to California to help battle deadly wildfires.

The two helicopters with pilots, crew and support personnel from the 97th Aviation Troop Command, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment, departed the Army Aviation Support Facility in West Jordan Aug. 27 to assist firefighters battling the massive blazes. In Mather, California, they will undergo a two-day training and then help fight fires. They are expected to support operations for approximately 15 days, making repeated trips to nearby water sources to dip their 600-gallon buckets, and from the air, drop water on the flames.

“The Utah National Guard is proud to be able to assist California,” said Col. Ricky Smith, commander, 97th Aviation Troop Command. “The aircrews of the 2-211th General Support Aviation Battalion are of the highest caliber and will be an invaluable asset to California in their fight against these unprecedented wildfires.”

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday the state has received a presidential major disaster declaration, releasing federal aid to supplement firefighting and recovery efforts. California’s firefighting resources have been stretched battling the second and third largest fires ever in the state.

California requested help through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a mutual-aid agreement between states and coordinated through state emergency management agencies, including Utah Division of Emergency Management.