(July 11, 2017)
As of Monday 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.
With a 5,600-acre wildfire burning, California Guard members were mobilizing Monday after Gov. Jerry Brown’s declaration of an emergency Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Colorado Guard was responding to a request from civil authorities in 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 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.
The Colorado Army 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 Guard continues to assist civil authorities with aerial casualty-evacuation capabilities to ensure firefighter safety for the Peak 2 Fire 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, 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.