BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho National Guard sent almost two-dozen members and three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to help battle California wildfires Aug. 27.
Earlier in the week, the Idaho Army National Guard Aviation Group trained on the specialized bucket equipment unique to helicopters and explicitly designed for aerial firefighting.
"California is currently requesting six Type-1 Firefighting Aircraft. We're one of the only units currently available to fulfill that request," said Col. Christopher Burt, Idaho Army National Guard state aviation officer. "We are trained, ready and eager to help our neighbors in California."
The Idaho team includes pilots and crew chiefs who make up the flight crews, essential maintenance and support personnel, and two flight paramedics augmenting California National Guard UH-60 medevac crews. They will work with several other states as they battle the massive fires that have consumed more than 1 million acres across the Golden State.
"Our UH-60s are three of nearly 80 civilian and military aircraft from around the nation supporting this crisis response," said Capt. Eric Fitzpatrick, the officer in charge of Idaho's team. "Civilian aircraft are the primary effort, but they have reached capacity, so this is where the National Guard comes in: to help fellow citizens in need, whether back home in Idaho or around the country."
While Idaho Army Aviation provides this support to California, the Idaho National Guard continues to maintain its readiness to respond to fires or any other emergencies in Idaho if needed.