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Guard Members Battle Western Wildfires

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., June 13, 2012 – Citizen-soldiers and airmen from five states are working alongside civilian first responders as they continue to battle wildfires in Colorado and New Mexico, according to National Guard officials.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter from the Colorado Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation, drops 500 gallons of water from a specialized bucket onto the Lower North Fork Fire in the vicinity of Conifer Colo. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Bethany Fehringer

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

New Mexico Army National Guard members are still battling the Little Bear wildfire near Ruidoso, N.M., which is approximately 35 percent contained, officials said.

The number of New Mexico Guard members has increased from 117 to approximately 218 since June 11, officials said. The New Mexico Guard has deployed three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, two equipped with Bambi buckets and one on standby for medical evacuations.

Guard members in New Mexico are also performing roving walking patrols, setting up traffic control points, and handing out information to residents who could be affected by the wildfire, officials said.

Guard members in Colorado are continuing to battle the High Peak wildfire near Fort Collins, officials said.

There are approximately 90 Colorado National Guard soldiers and airmen providing support and performing missions such as communication support, refueling, and security.

Additionally, the Colorado Guard has deployed UH-60 helicopters equipped with Bambi buckets, said officials, who said the fire has destroyed approximately 46,600 acres.

The Kansas National Guard and Nebraska National Guard are also assisting with wildfire suppression in Colorado, each sending one UH-60 helicopter equipped with a Bambi bucket and a crew of nine and four soldiers respectively.

Wildfire suppression operations in Wyoming have concluded in Guernsey State Park, Guard officials said. Currently, two Wyoming Air National Guard members are working in the communications center augmenting civilian first responders.

Wyoming is also scheduled to send one UH-60 helicopter equipped with a Bambi bucket, and a crew of four, to assist with the Colorado wildfires, officials said.

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