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Colorado AF Reservists fighting California fires from the sky

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing, taxis to a reload "pit" to take on nearly 3,000 gallons of fire retardant at McClellan Air Tanker Base in Sacramento, California, Aug. 4, 2015. The aircrew received a tasking to provide support to the growing Rocky Fire north of San Francisco, which had consumed approximately 65,000 acres as of Aug. 4. The crew was joined three other C-130s from both the 146th AW and the Air Force Reserve's 302nd Airlift Wing to combat the Rocky Fire. The aircraft contain the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System which allows them to support wildfire containment in conjunction with fire crews on the ground. The 146th AW is based in Channel Islands, while the 302nd AW is stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Stephen J. Collier)

A C-130J Super Hercules, assigned to the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing, taxis to a reload "pit" to take on nearly 3,000 gallons of fire retardant at McClellan Air Tanker Base in Sacramento, California, Aug. 4, 2015. The aircrew received a tasking to provide support to the growing Rocky Fire north of San Francisco, which had consumed approximately 65,000 acres as of Aug. 4. The crew was joined three other C-130s from both the 146th AW and the Air Force Reserve's 302nd Airlift Wing to combat the Rocky Fire. The aircraft contain the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System which allows them to support wildfire containment in conjunction with fire crews on the ground. The 146th AW is based in Channel Islands, while the 302nd AW is stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Stephen J. Collier)

MCCLELLAN AIR TANKER BASE, Calif. -- Two Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped aircraft arrived here from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.   yesterday afternoon and started flying on the Rocky fire Northwest of Sacramento, Calif., the same day.

They joined two Air National Guard MAFFS-equipped C-130Js from the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Islands, Calif., that had been flying on the fire since Aug. 1.
"We were flying within a couple hours of arriving here," said Maj. Brian McReynolds, who is a MAFFS aircraft commander for the first time this season.

The Rocky fire has burned 62,000 acres as of Tuesday morning and is only 12 percent contained. Thousands of residents have been evacuated so far. The dry, windy conditions could mean an even more dangerous fire if the environment does not improve.

"It was challenging," said McReynolds. "There were multiple fires in one location, smoke, other air traffic."

On the first day all four C-130 aircraft were fighting the Rocky fire, they flew a combined 22 sorties and dropped close to 63,000 gallons of retardant to establish fire containment lines.

According to the Air National Guard mission commander, Maj. Andrew Miller, they are expecting to fly out of McClellan for the next several weeks.

The DOD MAFFS-equipped C-130s are operated by four military airlift wings: The 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard; 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve Command.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system, owned by the U.S. Forest Service, that 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 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

The DOD, through U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, provides unique military support to firefighting efforts when requested by the National Interagency Fire Center and approved by the Secretary of Defense. These diverse mission assets are prepared to respond quickly and effectively to protect lives, property, critical infrastructure and natural resources, and can include, but are not limited to, MAFFS, military helicopters and ground forces capable of supporting the firefighting efforts.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui