Louisiana Guard Black Hawks Respond to Yosemite Fire
American Forces Press Service
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jul. 28, 2008 Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the Louisiana National Guard departed the Mather Flight Facility here yesterday to support firefighting operations in California's Yosemite Valley.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Calfire, is leading the firefighting effort.
A fire that grew from about 1,000 acres to around 10,000 acres July 26 forced the evacuation of 170 homes and is threatening more, officials said. Midpines is located along Highway 140, which leads to the west entrance of Yosemite National Park.
Aircraft from the 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Brigade, of Pineville, La., which completed fire support missions in Butte County on July 25, will operate from Mariposa Airport, performing tasks as requested by Calfire officials.
“During Hurricane Katrina, we had great support from all the other National Guard states, and to be able to come out here and return that favor and support the state of California and Calfire and the California National Guard is a great opportunity,” Army Maj. Joseph Brocato, the unit commander, said.
The Louisiana National Guard has supported the fire operation with two Black Hawks and 10 crew members since July 13. The helicopters are equipped with 660-gallon water buckets and can carry firefighters and equipment to the fires.
A truck that will provide fuel support to the aircraft departed Mather on July 26 and is at Mariposa Airport, awaiting the arrival of the aircraft. An additional aircraft, an S-70 Firehawk with a 1,000-gallon water tank, is on standby at Mather and is available for rapid-response missions supporting Calfire operations if needed.
To date, more than two dozen National Guard helicopters have dropped nearly 4 million gallons of water on fires that have been burning throughout the state since June 22.
(From a California National Guard news release.)