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Colo. National Guard firefighters join civilian counterparts in battle against High Park blaze 
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UH-60 bucket fill 

Colorado Army National Guard Sgt. Rick D. Peevy, a crew chief with the Colorado Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation, guides his UH-60 Blackhawk in order to fill a bucket with river water to fight wildfires at Fort Carson, Colo., June 12, 2008.  Peevy and his helicopter crew dropped approximately 22,000 gallons of water today to help fight the fires burning in an estimated 30,000 acre area.  Personnel and Blackhawk helicopters from the Colorado Army National Guard have been assisting several other agencies in battling the blaze since June 10.  Wildfires have been burning in the Piñon Canyon training area since June 9. (Official Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Cheresa D. Theiral) (Released)

Click here or on the photo for a high-resolution file photo.

Click here for a photo gallery of Piñon Canyon firefighting operations.

Click here for a photo gallery of Lower North Fork firefighting operations.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Air National Guard Capt. Darin Overstreet

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (6/14/12) – Colorado Army National Guard firefighters and trucks are now fighting the High Park fire in Larimer County, Colo.

The off-road vehicles, which carry 4,000 gallons of water, are also able to mix a fire retardant solution to protect homes and forest lands.

"We have a major capability in our fire trucks," said Col. Joel Best, Colorado Army National Guard land component commander. "Our firefighters are not only U.S. Forest Service red-card certified, every member is also either a paramedic or an emergency medical technician."

"These are highly experience firefighters," said Adjutant General of Colorado Maj. Gen Mike Edwards, who commands the Colorado National Guard. "They bring their amazing training, experience and capabilities to protect friends and neighbors, and I'm eager to bring them into the fight. This is what they do."

To date, National Guard aircrews have dropped nearly 10,000 gallons of water on the High Park Fire.

National Guard helicopter crews began fighting the fire June 11.

Currently, five UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, representing the Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska National Guard, are based at the Fort Collins-Loveland Municipal Airport, where CONG fuelers are ensuring the expedient turnaround of aerial support.

The fire started June 9 and has burned more than 46,600 acres to date and is currently 10 percent contained.

More than 2,600 evacuations remain in place.

Additionally, Colorado Guardsmen are augmenting the Larimer County Sheriff's Department to provide assistance in securing evacuated areas.

"The Colorado National Guard is supporting law enforcement in evacuated areas to help secure homes and property," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. "The Guard has so many capabilities, each handled with such professionalism, that we have nothing but trust in their mission success."

More than 100 National Guardsmen are currently supporting the High Park fire mission. All combined, the National Guard is providing the following support to the High Park fire response:

  • The Colorado National Guard's 1157th Engineer Firefighter Company is providing pumper trucks, water tenders and firefighters, working side-by-side with their civilian counterparts to assist in fire containment.

  • The National Guard Reaction Force is augmenting the Larimer County Sheriff's Department to provide assistance in securing evacuated areas. The Soldiers represent Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 193rd Military Police Battalion, Colorado Army National Guard.

  • The National Guard Communications Element is providing an interoperable communications platform that allows multiple agencies, both military and civilian, to communicate via phone, internet and radio. The unit comprises Airmen from the Colorado National Guard's 140th Communications Flight. The NGCE relieved the 8th Civil Support Team, comprised of a joint team of CONG Soldiers and Airmen.

  • Soldiers are providing administrative support for the Incident Command Team headquartered at the Colorado Army National Guard's Fort Collins Readiness Center.

  • The Black Hawk helicopters represent the Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and Nebraska Army National Guard.

  • The firefighting helicopters and crews are equipped with one BamBi Bucket® each. Each bucket has a maximum capacity of 660 gallons.

  • One helicopter is outfitted with hoist capability to perform medical evacuation, if necessary.

  • A number of Soldiers and Airmen are currently providing administrative and operations support.

Several of these Citizen-Soldiers and -Airmen live and work in Fort Collins and surrounding communities. They represent neighbors and friends, whose sole mission to protect property and ensure public safety. Some of these men and women have also been directly affected by the fire.

The Colorado National Guard is operating under the governor’s executive order no. D 2012-014 to support and the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department and the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team in fighting the High Park fire.

National Guard support from neighboring states is being made available through the use of the emergency management assistance compact, a mutual-aid agreement that allows state-to-state assistance during declared states of emergency, and allows unaffected states to provide resources to affected states including the use of National Guard forces and equipment.

“We, as members of the National Guard, are always available and ready to support neighbors in support of the incident command,” said Edwards. “It’s our highest priority to respond immediately in times of need. We are neighbors helping neighbors -- and even neighboring states. That’s why we serve.”

Public information is available at the Larimer County Emergency Information line at 970-498-5500 where Information Officers are answering the phone, and at www.larimer.org or on Twitter @larimersheriff #highparkfire, or Inciweb at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2904.

National Guard Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen are always ready, always there.

FOR EDITORS: The UH-60 Black hawk helicopters are being flown by Soldiers of the Army National Guard. Support personnel are Airmen from the Colorado Air National Guard and Soldiers from the Colorado Army National Guard. Collectively, these Soldiers and Airmen are National Guardsmen.

File photos:

Piñon Canyon Firefighting (June 2008) http://bit.ly/L6j0GW  

Lower North Fork Firefighting (March 2012) http://bit.ly/OsIX2S

Video - National Guard Firefighting: http://bit.ly/KZQeZI

Fact sheets:

UH-60 Black Hawk: http://1.usa.gov/6kraJa

National Guard Reaction Force: http://bit.ly/MpQoHW

Civil Support Team: http://bit.ly/KqBMdK

Emergency Management Assistance Compact: http://bit.ly/MA4fZ4

National Guard Communications Element, who operate the Joint Continental United States Communications Support Environment: http://bit.ly/LQUxTg


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