Nevada Guard aircraft to help fight California fires |

Nevada Guard aircraft to help fight California fires

Staff Reports

With thousands of acres of burning California timber sending smoke into Western Nevada, the U.S. Forest Service has asked for help from a Nevada Air National Guard C-130 aircraft to support firefighting efforts in central California.

The aircraft and its crew are expected to deploy on Saturday.

Widespread haze and drift smoke is expected to clear out Friday night after plunging Carson Valley’s air quality into the unhealthful range over the past two days.

On Wednesday, air quality measured at the Ranchos Aspen Air Quality Monitor managed by the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection indicated smoke had reached hazardous levels.

The chief culprit is the 74,083-acre Detwiler fire burning east of Yosemite. Nearly 4,000 firefighters have a line 15 percent around the fire, which has claimed 58 homes and 60 minor structures since it started on July 16.

The Nevada Air National Guard’s activation as a firefighting surge capacity for the U.S. Forest Service could last up to one month depending on the need for assets fighting fires currently threatening life and property and blowing smoke into the northern Nevada region.

The Nevada Air National Guard’s 152nd Airlift Wing was selected last year as the newest of four Department of Defense military units equipped with the U.S. Forest Service’s Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System.

The equipment and aircraft are activated to supplement U.S. Forest Service and civilian air tankers during periods of high activity on large-scale wildland fires throughout the nation. By law, these military aircraft are not requested until available U.S. commercial aircraft have been pressed into service and the private fleet is determined to be in need of assistance. The military aircraft are requested by the National Interagency Fire Center and activated through the U.S. Northern Command based on an agreement with the Department of Defense.

The system rolls into the back of a C-130 aircraft with water or retardant released through a nozzle located on the left rear side of the plane. The system can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds over an area one-quarter of a mile long and 60-feet wide, and can refill in less than 12 minutes. Congress established the program in the early 1970s to support wildland firefighting through an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service.