Wildfire Relief Expands

The 302nd Air Expeditionary Group moved fire retardant reloading equipment to the Channel Islands ANGS, Calif., July 8 to increase the efficiency of the eight modified C-130 aircraft in battling wildfires in California. These Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve assets have been operating out of McClellan airfield near Sacramento, dropping fire retardant on the raging wildfires since June 26. Initially the fires were mostly in the northern part of the state but have since moved south. Establishing the reload operation on the Channel Islands will allow the aircraft to reload retardant more quickly and decrease flight time to reach the fires in the south, thus increasing the amount of sorties per day. Through July 9, the C-130s have flown more than 300 sorties, dropping nearly 850,000 gallons of retardant. The 302nd AEG also includes two Navy and six Marine Corps helicopters equipped with buckets to drop water on the fires. (McClellan reports, one by SSgt. Luke Johnson, and a second by Patti Bielling)