Panetta Commends Jacoby for Northcom Fire Assistance
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 28, 2012 In an afternoon call to the commander of U.S. Northern Command, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta commended Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. for leading the Defense Department’s effort to support the fight against Colorado’s raging wildfires.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta speaks with Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., commander of U.S. Northern Command, for an update on the Colorado wildfires threatening Colorado Springs and the U.S. Air Force Academy, June 28, 2012. DOD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The secretary also commended National Guard and Northcom support to the National Interagency Fire Center based in Boise, Idaho, which coordinates firefighting efforts.
Jacoby updated Panetta on the effort to quell wildfires affecting Colorado Springs and the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the secretary instructed the Northcom commander to provide assets to the extent they are needed by federal or state authorities.
The Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs has burned more than 18,500 acres of land, forcing the evacuation of at least 32,000 people and threatening more than 20,000 structures in the area, including many homes of military families.
Four C-130 aircraft equipped with U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems have so far flown 47 sorties dropping more than 100,000 gallons of fire retardant.
Acting under immediate response authorities, the Army has provided bulldozers, other heavy equipment and hundreds of soldiers to cut fire breaks. Twenty two fire trucks from five military bases, including the academy, have joined the effort. Military personnel are providing housing, meals and medical care at temporary shelters on Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson.
Panetta praised the Colorado Springs community for its resilience during the crisis, and Jacoby noted that the academy remained open to in-process the class of 2016.
The secretary concluded the call by asking Jacoby to keep him informed as firefighting efforts continue.