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C-130s Deployed to Fight Colorado Fires

Special to American Forces Press Service

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, June 13, 2002 – Four military C- 130 Hercules have joined in the fight to help control wildfires in Colorado that have devastated 90,000 acres of the state southwest of Denver.

The planes are expected to go into action today. They will fly out of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Fitted with special firefighting modules, the aircraft can carry 3,000 gallons of fire retardant fluid and drop it on targets in under five seconds.

Navy Cmdr. Joe Guerrero, action officer at U.S. Transportation Command, said two of the planes are from the 302nd Air Wing of the Air Force Reserve. The planes are based at Peterson. The other two planes come from the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Air Wing based in Charlotte.

Each plane will have a 6-member crew and a 6-member backup crew who have been trained for aerial firefighting. A fifth plane is on standby.

The fires, which started Saturday, have crept to within 10 miles of the Denver metropolitan area, forcing residents to evacuate. More than 20 homes have been destroyed in a 135- square mile area.

The National Forest Service's National Interagency Fire Center requested the C-130s.

Guerrero said crews are on orders to provide assistance for 30 days or until released by NIFC.

"This is the first time we have been called on for aerial firefighting this year," Guerrero said. "Last year we had numerous missions throughout Montana, Wyoming and California.

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