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California Air Guard Responds to Arizona Wildfires

  • Published
  • By Maj. Kimberly Holman
  • 146AW
Today Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General for the California National Guard, approved the deployment of two C-130J Hercules aircraft and
35 personnel from the 146th Airlift Wing to support the U.S. Forest Service with firefighting efforts in Arizona.

The Wallow wildfire in Eastern Arizona has grown to become the largest in the state's history, prompting federal authorities to request help from the California Air National Guard.

"The California Air National Guard swiftly answered the call to assist our neighbors in Arizona," said Maj. Gen. Baldwin. "California is no stranger to the threat of wildfires, and even with two of our aircraft deployed to Arizona, our robust force stands ready as our state's own wildfire season approaches."

The state-of the-art C130J aircraft departed this morning from their home at Channel Islands Air National Guard Base. Each aircraft is equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems, or MAFFS, which can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60-feet wide. Once discharged, the aircraft can refill with water or retardant in less than 12 minutes.

"CAL FIRE owns the largest fleet of aerial firefighting planes and helicopters in the world," said Chief Ken Pimlott, acting director of CAL FIRE. "Our department's fleet is augmented during times of high fire activity by the California Air National Guard's aircraft through our decades-long cooperative agreement. California's troops are well-trained and their experience fighting fires in California will serve them well in Arizona."

This is the second time this year the 146th Airlift Wing has deployed to support firefighting efforts in neighboring states. For several weeks beginning in April, the 146th Airlift Wing sent aircraft to Texas to engage wildfires there. The mission in Arizona is slated to last 30 days or until support from 146th aircraft is deemed no longer necessary.