Airmen from the Colorado Air†National Guard’s†302nd Airlift Wing flew their first aerial firefighting support missions of the year June 12, dropping fire retardant on the growing Black Forest fire.
302nd AW aircrews fighting the nearly 9,000-acre blaze performed 10 drops, releasing approximately 25,000 gallons of fire retardant from U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130 Hercules, helping to contain the fire’s path.
The fire in northern El Paso County had destroyed 360 homes and was threatening others, according to El Paso County Sheriff’s Office officials. Injuries or fatalities from the fire were still unknown. The sheriff’s office also reports the fire was at zero percent containment.
Two other prominent fires are also burning in Colorado. These include the Royal Gorge fire near Canon City and the Big Meadows fire west of Fort Collins.
Currently, both of the wing’s MAFFS-equipped C-130s are dedicated to supporting Southwest and Rocky Mountain area wild land fires.
The MAFFS system is a self-contained, portable aerial firefighting system that†can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds over an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60 feet wide. Once a load is discharged, the MAFFS system can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 302nd AW’s aerial firefighting mission. Since 1993, the wing’s Air Force reservists and C-130s have supported numerous fires, including Colorado’s 2002 Hayman fire, California’s Big Sur fire in 2008 and the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire in nearby Colorado Springs.
For more information on fires throughout Colorado and the United States, visit the National Interagency Fire Center’s website at www.nifc.gov.