U.S. Northern Command aircraft continue California firefighting assistance

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | October 26, 2007

CHANNEL ISLANDS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif.— The Department of Defense completed a second day of supporting California firefighting efforts with specially equipped aircraft on Thursday.

Six Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130 Hercules planes equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System dropped tons of fire retardant on wildfires in San Diego County.

The aircraft conducted 18 sorties – six against the Poomacha fire and 12 sorties against the Witch fire – under operational control of U.S. Northern Command and at the request of the local incident commander. The six aircraft belong to four units: the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., the 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyo., the 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, N.C., and the 146th Airlift Wing from Channel Islands Air National Guard Base, Calif.

All aircraft successfully completed their missions and have returned to base. Operations will resume Friday.

In other DoD firefighting support, four U.S. Navy helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 85 dropped 133,560 gallons of water on the Harris Ranch Fire. Navy helicopters have flown a total of 47.9 hours and have made 701 bucket drops. On Wednesday night, two helicopters from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3 conducted fire perimeter mapping. Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron 6 and Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (Light) 45 flew critical infrastructure assessment missions over the Witch Creek and Harris Ranch Fires, respectively.

USNORTHCOM is the joint combatant command formed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities. The command is responsible for the operational control of all active-duty military responses to a disaster when requested by the state and ordered by the president and the secretary of defense.