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California fire support missions continue July 4

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Luke Johnson
  • 302nd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
Airmen from the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group launched their ninth day of Aerial support missions July 4 in a coordinated effort to control wildfires in California.

The aircrews, flying Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems-equipped C-130 Hercules aircraft, focused their firefighting efforts on the Gap fire in the Los Padres National Forest and the Piute fire located in the Sequoia National Forest.

The Gap fire is located about six miles northwest of Santa Barbara with more than 6,300 acres burned. The fire is about five-percent contained.

The Piute fire is located about 17 miles northeast of Caliente with more than 14,000 acres burned. The fire is also about five-percent contained.

Both fires continue to threaten nearby communities. 

The C-130 aircraft are operating out of McClellan Airfield here will be reloading with fire retardant at Channel Island Air Guard Station to save time getting to the Gap and Piute fires, said Tom Hoffman, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection staff chief. 

The aircraft will then return to McClellan airfield at the end of the flying day for maintenance and the next day's launch. 

The 302nd AEG aircraft units include three Air National Guard units -- the 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, N.C.; the 146th Airlift Wing from Channel Islands ANGS; and the 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyo. -- and one Air Force Reserve unit -- the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

The 302nd AEG comprises eight Air Force MAFFS-capable C-130 aircraft operating out of McClellan Airfield, and Navy Reserve and Marine Corps helicopter units operating out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.

Three Marine helicopter units -- Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego -- fly CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters equipped with 2,000-gallon specialized fire fighting buckets.

U.S. Navy Reserve helicopters flying from NAS Lemoore are assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron 85 based out of Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. The squadron is flying MH-60 Knighthawk helicopters with 420- and 360-gallon specialized fire fighting buckets.

To date the military airborne assets in California have flown approximately 160 missions and dropped close to 425,000 gallons of fire retardant since June 26.

The 302nd AEG provides unique aerial capabilities and is part of a unified military support effort of U.S. Northern Command to provide assistance to the U.S. Forest Service, CAL FIRE, and the National Interagency Fire Center.

Fire information is current as of July 4. 

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