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More Guard Members Join Firefighting Effort

From a Colorado National Guard News Release

CENTENNIAL, Colo., June 13, 2013 – More than 140 personnel from the Colorado National Guard are continuing to assist civil authorities with firefighting support at the Black Forest fire in El Paso County, Colo.

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Colorado National Guard and Fort Carson aviation assets are providing firefighting assistance to civil authorities at the Black Forest fire in El Paso County, Colo. U.S. Army photo by 2nd Lt. Skye A. Robinson

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

Three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, each equipped with a bucket capable of carrying and delivering nearly 500 gallons of water at a time, have dropped about 64,000 gallons of water on the fire so far. Meanwhile, a LUH-72 Lakota helicopter and crew are continuing to provide aerial firefighting coordination.

Thirteen members of the 1157th Firefighting Company (Engineers), along with their firefighting trucks and tenders, also are fighting the fire. Additionally, 80 more personnel and additional vehicles from Colorado’s National Guard Reaction Force have been called to provide additional security at up to 17 checkpoints in the Black Forest area, bringing the total response force to 120 Guard members and 24 vehicles.

Eight airmen from the Colorado National Guard’s Joint Incident Site Communications Capability Team 16 are providing communications support.

At any given time, about 20 additional personnel are providing various types of assistance in direct support of the operation, officials said.

The Colorado National Guard is operating in state active duty status to assist the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department in fighting the Black Forest fire.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Colorado’s citizen-soldiers supporting our communities,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado’s adjutant general. “It is usually unfortunate circumstances when the National Guard is called in, but for Guard members, supporting our neighbors is the most rewarding mission we do.”

The Colorado National Guard helicopters and crews launched from the Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., and are members of 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation.

An additional UH-60 outfitted with a hoist is on standby at the High-altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, Colo., to provide medical evacuation and search-and-rescue capabilities for civil authorities fighting the Big Meadow fire in Rocky Mountain National Park near Estes Park, Colo.

Two Wyoming National Guard Civil Support Team personnel provided an initial commercial Internet and phone support bridge between military and civilian responders until they were relieved by the Colorado joint incident site communications capability Team team yesterday.

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