National Guard sends troops, equipment to fight wildfires on west coast

Kaylah Jackson
August 17, 2018 - 11:55 am

(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Timothy Chacon)


Summer for some means vacation, beaches, and sunscreen. But in Calfornia, summer also means wildfire season. While the National Guard is equipped to defend the U.S. abroad, soldiers and airmen offer major assistance to civil authorities during wildfires. Here's what is in the guard's arsenal, using its technology and firefighting skills to save the land and victims’ homes.

Drones. The MQ-9 Reaper, an unmanned aerial aircraft is used to share information through remote sensing for units to effectively assess situations in real time. The drone’s sensors collect images and data that pinpoint exactly where the fire lines are located. The information helps CAL FIRE, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

(Army photo by Staff Sgt. Edward Siguenza)


Aircraft. Black Hawks, Chinooks, and a Lakota are just three of the helos used in air support for the fires. Many of the manned aircraft are used to collect water to help put out the fires across the California wildlands. According to DoD, more than 700,000 gallons of waters have been dropped on the blazes since July when the fires erupted. According to DoD, the 163rd Attack Wing of the California Air National Guard has flown almost 350 hours to support the Carr, Mendocino Complex fire, among others.

(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

Bridges. Fires that erupted in June destroyed more than 15,000 acres of land in Lake County. With the aid of the 132nd Multirole Bridge Company, soldiers made transporting resources to the affected areas much easier by constructing a bridge. The 100-foot improved ribbon bridge makes moving heavy equipment like bulldozers more feasible through the fire-stricken area. The same bridge was built three years earlier for a similar fire in Lake County that claimed over 50,000 acres. 

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

Close to 1,000 service members from the California National Guard alone have gotten orders to help with the raging fires on the west coast. Units from Washington, Nevada, Arizona Colorado are also involved in assisting the firefighting effort. State Senator, Mike McGuire (D-CA) said that the combined damages have topped $3 billion.  

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