Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Local troops off to battle wildfires


Troops from the Santa Barbara-based Army National Guard prepared to head up to Northern California yesterday to help battle the more than 1,000 wildfires that are currently burning throughout the state.

The mission of the 128th Quarter Master, which is based at the Santa Barbara Armory, located at 700 E. Canon Perdido, will be to fill in wherever needed when it comes to battling the blazes.
“We’re basically providing bodies,” Lt. Justen Wiggins told the Daily Sound. “Right now we’re just making sure we have all the supplies we need and performing PCC’s (pre-combat checks).”
It’s the job of the Army National Guard, Lt. Wiggins said, to provide relief during any major natural disaster.
“We even helped out during the Hurricane Katrina cleanup,” he added. As for last year’s Zaca Fire that swept through Santa Barbara’s backcountry, scorching 240,207 acres, Lt. Wiggins said they put in a request to help out, but it did work out.
The California National Guard, with support from National Guard equipment and personnel from various other states is currently providing 14 rotary aircraft, ten fixed-wing aircraft, and more than 300 personnel to assist in extinguishing various northern California wildfires today.
There are currently 14 rotary-winged aircraft fighting various northern California Wildfires. These include eight aircraft from California and five from other states. Helicopters from California consist of (5) UH-60 Blackhawks, (1) Firehawk, and (3) OH-58 Kiowas for observation. Since Monday, these aircraft have dropped more than 484,000 gallons of water.
“The California National Guard works in support of the Governor and civilian responders and will continue to be deployed in the affected area as long as needed,” according to a press released.
The Santa Barbara Armory was built in the 1930s and has continuously operated as a California National Guard Armory since opening.

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