Two more military aircraft have been devoted to firefighting efforts as the Nevada Air National Guard’s High Rollers’ participation in the fire season has been extended to Aug. 26.
Five C-130 aircraft equipped with modular airborne firefighting systems will be deployed including one from the Wyoming Air National Guard and the other from the Air Force Reserve in Colorado joined the three on firefighting duty on Tuesday. The extension was at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center.
“The request for additional support shows just how challenging this fire season is and how critical our … aircraft, aircrews and maintenance personnel are to supporting (firefighting efforts),” said 152nd Airlift Wing Commander Col. Jeremy Ford. “These airmen are dedicated to fighting these wildfires in order to protect and save lives and property of communities from the local area to multiple regional states.”
The C-130 aircraft assigned to units in California, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming are capable of dropping fire retardant using U.S. Forest Service modular airborne firefighting equipped aircraft.
Aircrews, maintenance crews and support personnel undergo special training and certification to perform these missions each year.
The High Rollers have two aircraft assisting along with the California Air National Guard. The California unit will continue assisting with one aircraft.
Since activating June 26, the Reno unit amassed 141 sorties, dispensing 388,766 gallons totaling over 3.4 million pounds of retardant dropped on various fires throughout the West. The California Air National Guard’s planes have flown 64 sorties, dispensing 170,322 gallons adding up to nearly 1.5 million pounds of retardant. Both units have helped out with 11 different fires in Northern California.
The initial request for support was June 26 through July 26, more than a month earlier than last year’s firefighting season. The High Rollers participated in the 2020 fire season from July 29 through Oct. 3, the longest firefighting activation in the unit’s history.
The C-130s are operating from CAL FIRE’s Air Tanker Reload Base in Sacramento.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center as of Tuesday, 83 large fires have burned 1,293,636 acres across 13 states. More than 19,300 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to the incidents.