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    NEWS | Florida National Guard US Army Aviation
    #firefighting

    Florida National Guard Fighting Wildfires


    Florida Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters working closely with state and local partners to contain the Chipola Complex fires across multiple counties in the Florida panhandle

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    Florida National Guard Fighting Wildfires


    US Army, March 10, 2022 - PANAMA CITY, FL by Master Sgt. Christopher Milbrodt – Florida National Guard aircrews from Cecil Field reported for drill weekend March 5 to train in the air on their Chinook helicopters.

    Their plans changed quickly when requests for helicopter assistance came from the state’s Department of Emergency Management to help fight wildfires.

    “We have the capability to carry a water bucket with up to 18,000 pounds of water underneath the helicopter to deploy anywhere there is an active fire away from structures,” said 1st Lt. Isaiah Carlton, commander of B Company, Detachment 1, 1-111th Aviation Regiment.

    “When there’s people in need and they call the Florida National Guard, we are ready to respond.”

    Crews from Cecil Field and Brooksville were among the personnel activated over the weekend by the Florida National Guard to support civilian authorities as they fight the Chipola Complex wildfires in Florida’s Panhandle.

    In addition to the pilots, the Florida Guard has activated two dozen Guardsmen, two Black Hawk helicopters and two Chinook helicopters to support the state’s response. Since arriving, the Florida Guard helicopters have conducted 20 missions, dropping 156,500 gallons of water to help suppress the wildfires.

    “This is my first time responding to wildfires. We train for it and stay ready to respond, but this is the first time I’ve ever had to put it into practice,” said Carlton. “It is extremely fulfilling when you know you’re coming out to help people. We are dropping water where it’s needed, but it is rare to see the individuals who are affected by our efforts.”

    The aircrews interacted with one person who was directly affected by their efforts because he happened to be working at the airport where they were refueling.

    “The Star Avenue fire was about two miles from my home,” said Edward McNair, a heavy rescue tow truck operator from Panama City. “I could see the smoke and the helicopters each time they made a pass. I truly believe if the Guard didn’t get here when they did, my whole neighborhood would have burned down.”

    The Florida Guard helicopters are working alongside Florida Forest Service air assets. The Chipola Complex fires were reported March 4 and have impacted the Florida Panhandle counties of Bay, Gulf and Calhoun.



    Chipola Complex fires



    This article is listed in :
    Florida National Guard US Army Aviation
    --Helicopters Firefighting
    Cecil Field

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