Wicked Year of Wildfires

Less than two months after specially configured C-130s responded to wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona, these aircraft are again battling blazes—this time in Texas and the northwest United States. “We exceeded our annual average of fire missions two months ago, and this is now becoming one of the most active fire seasons we have faced,” said Lt. Col. David Condit, deputy commander of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group that oversees these Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command assets. Tasked by US Northern Command, a total of four Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped Hercules from the North Carolina Air Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte and AFRC’s 302nd AW at Peterson AFB, Colo., deployed to Austin in central Texas to help fight the wildfires. In that area, some of the worst wildfires near Bastrop have burnt more than 34,000 acres, destroying more than 1,500 homes, reported the Associated Press (via KTRK TV of Houston). Two additional MAFFS C-130s from the Wyoming ANG’s 153rd AW in Cheyenne are staging out of Boise, Idaho, to battle fires in the northwest United States. (Includes Peterson release)