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Reserve, Guard Airmen Continue Supporting Wildfire Suppression Efforts

By Ann Skarban 302nd Airlift Wing

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FRESNO, Calif., Aug. 17, 2017 — Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard C-130 aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System continue supporting wildland fire suppression efforts as the National Preparedness System's fire preparedness level sits at PL-5, its highest level.

A MAFFS-equipped C-130, assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing approaches the Power Line fire near Pocatello, Idaho, Aug. 10, 2016.  Aircraft and aircrews from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. and the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, Cheyenne, Wyo. provided MAFFS capabilities requested by the U.S. Forest Service, supporting aerial fire fighting suppression efforts to fires in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Utah Aug. 3 to Sep. 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Frank Wilde)
A C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System and assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing approaches the Power Line fire near Pocatello, Idaho, Aug. 10, 2016. Similar efforts have been underway in California since July 30, 2017. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Frank Wilde
A MAFFS-equipped C-130, assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing approaches the Power Line fire near Pocatello, Idaho, Aug. 10, 2016.  Aircraft and aircrews from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. and the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, Cheyenne, Wyo. provided MAFFS capabilities requested by the U.S. Forest Service, supporting aerial fire fighting suppression efforts to fires in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Utah Aug. 3 to Sep. 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Lt. Col. Frank Wilde) Power Line fire
A C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System and assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing approaches the Power Line fire near Pocatello, Idaho, Aug. 10, 2016. Similar efforts have been underway in California since July 30, 2017. Air Force photo by Lt. Col. Frank Wilde

The three federally activated MAFFS-equipped-aircraft and crews -- from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, the Nevada Air National Guard's 152nd Airlift Wing and the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing -- have been supporting fire-containment efforts from an air tanker base here since July 30.

On Aug. 10, the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, announced the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group raised the national fire preparedness level to PL-5."A significant amount of initial and extended attack and large fire activity has occurred over the past several days as a result of lightning storms that have intensified local and geographic response," said Dan Buckley, NMAC chairman, in announcing the PL-5 preparedness level.

Busiest Day Since Activation

Aug. 14 was "a huge day for MAFFS," said Air Force Col. James DeVere, commander of the 302nd Airlift Wing. "This was the busiest day since MAFFS was activated," he added.

MAFFS-equipped C-130 employment totals Aug. 14 included 24 sorties and 24 drops totaling 68,822 gallons of retardant.

"There is a lot of fire activity just south of Yosemite National Park," DeVere said. "All of our drops were just south of Yosemite on the South Fork fire protecting the park -- supporting an early detection fire. We had a big impact on it."

As of August 14, the federally activated MAFFS cumulative employment totals grew to 110 drops disbursing 279,350 gallons of retardant on more than a dozen fires throughout California.

The last time the national preparedness level reached its maximum was Aug. 13, 2015, holding at that level for 24 days. This year's PL-5 level marks the fifth time that level has been reached since 2007.