April 18, 2011 —
TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – As dry conditions, high winds and a lack of rain continue to plague Texas, U.S. Air Force C-130s are responding to help douse the raging wildfires that have consumed nearly 1.5 million acres and destroyed more than 220 homes in Texas since Jan. 1.
Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units from across the United States are staging at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, to fly their MAFFS – Modular Airborne FireFighting System – aircraft over the wildfires that have been burning in South and West Texas.
“We are here to provide support to the government and citizens of Texas,” said Lt Col. Thomas Brown, MAFFS mission commander. “By flying these missions, we can do what we can to help extinguish the fires that threaten the way of life of so many living in this area. It is a daunting task, but one we are familiar with and fully trained to execute.”
The MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system, which can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.
The MAFFS is owned by the USDA Forest Service,one of several federal and state government agencies and organizations with roles and responsibilities in wildland fire suppression that make up the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The Department of Defense is flying at the request of NIFC.
AFNORTH is the air component for U.S. Northern Command and when tasked, provides support to local, state, tribal, regional and federal emergency service agencies.
For more information, contact AFNORTH Public Affairs at (850) 283-8080, (850) 624-4293, or via email at AFNORTH.PA@tyndall.af.mil