Gov. Jared Polis has authorized the Colorado National Guard to assist the State Emergency Operations Center and incident commanders at multiple fires statewide with aerial fire suppression.
Two Colorado Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter equipped with water buckets will assist wildland firefighters and stage at the helibase in near Granby at the State Emergency Operations Center’s (SEOC) request.
“Our aviators conducted water bucket operations at Chatfield Reservoir in preparation for fire season,” said State Army Aviation Safety Officer U.S. Army Col. William Gentle. “The ability to train together with our partners has helped build a common operating picture across multiple organizations for a quick and coordinated response,” Gentle said.
A Black Hawk from the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site (HAATS) in Gypsum is standing by at the helibase with a hoist to aid in providing medical evacuation assistance if needed. Additionally, HAATS provides rotary-wing military helicopter pilots worldwide with power management training within the state’s mountains, helping ground rescue teams to rescue nearly 500 people since 1986.
The Colorado National Guard (CONG) has foward refuelers positioned at the helibase to support operations for helicopters. This will allow crews to refuel without shutting down or flying to a distant airport.
The SEOC has also requested CONG to provide nearly 30 soldiers to develop 24/7 traffic control points in order to assist the Larimer County Sheriff and law enforcement officers with traffic control for the Cameron Peak Fire burning West of Fort Collins. CONG’s Mobile Testing and Training teams are available to provide COVID-19 testing to wildland firefighters.
For more information regarding the Colorado National Guard, visit: https://co.ng.mil