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California Guard Deploys to Fight Wildfires; Colorado Guard Expands Firefighting Role

From a National Guard Bureau News Release

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ARLINGTON, Va., July 10, 2017 — With a 5,600-acre wildfire burning in Butte County, California National Guard members are mobilizing today after California Gov. Jerry Brown's declaration of an emergency yesterday.

Helicopter bucket operations performed June 21, 2013, by a CH-47 Chinook crew from the Colorado Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion of the 135th Aviation Regiment, stationed at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colo. Guard members in Arizona, California, Colorado and Wyoming are assisting in fire operations.
A CH-47 Chinook crew from the Colorado Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion of the 135th Aviation Regiment, stationed at Buckley Air Force Base, performs helicopter bucket operations, June 21, 2013. During the 2017 wildfire season, Guard members in Arizona, California, Colorado and Wyoming are assisting in fire operations. Air National Guard photo by Air Force Capt. Darin Overstreet
Helicopter bucket operations performed June 21, 2013, by a CH-47 Chinook crew from the Colorado Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion of the 135th Aviation Regiment, stationed at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colo. Guard members in Arizona, California, Colorado and Wyoming are assisting in fire operations.

East Peak Fire
A CH-47 Chinook crew from the Colorado Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion of the 135th Aviation Regiment, stationed at Buckley Air Force Base, performs helicopter bucket operations, June 21, 2013. During the 2017 wildfire season, Guard members in Arizona, California, Colorado and Wyoming are assisting in fire operations. Air National Guard photo by Air Force Capt. Darin Overstreet

As of this morning, nearly 85 National Guard members were involved in firefighting operations in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming, National Guard Bureau officials said. Because California Guard members are in the process of mobilizing to assist civilian fire authorities, no soldier tally was yet available, they added.

Colorado Fire

Meanwhile, the Colorado National Guard was responding to a request from civil authorities in Moffett County for aviation assets to fight the Peekaboo Fire about 50 miles west of Craig, Colorado. The fire threatens critical infrastructure and has forced the closure of major highways and roads.

In the Peekaboo Fire, the Colorado Army National Guard will support aerial firefighting operations with two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with crews and aerial water buckets, to be employed at the incident commander's discretion, officials said.

Each of the aerial water buckets is able to deliver up to 500 gallons of water or fire retardant slurry at one time. The Colorado Army National Guard also will provide fuel trucks for a forward aerial refueling point at the Peekaboo Fire helicopter base.

The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center has requested two CH-47 Chinook helicopters to serve as standby aerial firefighting assets staged at Buckley Air Force Base. The aircraft will be available to support any fires across Colorado.

The Colorado National Guard continues to assist civil authorities with aerial casualty evacuation capabilities to ensure firefighter safety for the Peak 2 Fire in Summit County, near Breckenridge, with one UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter equipped with a hoist and available for immediate employment.

"The protection of our neighbors and response workers is our top priority," said the director of Joint Staff, Air Force Col. Gregory White, who commands the military response to domestic operations in Colorado. "Our military training is being put to good use throughout the state. We're proud to support the professionals at all levels of the response effort."

(The Colorado National Guard contributed to this article.)