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Cal Guard fighting wildfires across the state

Trees burn within eyesight of a California National Guard hand crew with Joint Task Force 578 during the Dixie Fire in Northern California Aug. 16, 2021. The task force is part of the mutual aid system in support of CAL FIRE.

Trees burn within eyesight of a California National Guard hand crew with Joint Task Force 578 during the Dixie Fire in Northern California Aug. 16, 2021. The task force is part of the mutual aid system in support of CAL FIRE.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Service members within the California Military Department remain hard at work battling wildfires.

"There are 1,264 Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen supporting firefighting efforts across the state," U.S. Army Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, Cal Guard's adjutant general, said Tuesday morning at a press conference held by the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services. 

"While many of us had a holiday over the weekend, our state operations center and nearly 15,000 state firefighters and emergency personnel were operating on the ground and in the air fighting these fires," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

Last week, nearly 300 active-duty Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, joined the state's firefighting efforts.

"We continue to have almost 40 military hand crews from the active Army and the California National Guard out fighting the fire on the ground," said Baldwin.

In El Dorado County, Soldiers providing security and support to the El Dorado County Sheriff and Highway Patrol are beginning to assist with repopulation efforts for the areas that may have their evacuation status lifted soon, said Baldwin.

"For the first time since 2012, all eight of the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems aircraft from the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve were in the air simultaneously, and that almost never happens," Baldwin said. "They were out there hitting fires hard which helped firefighters get a handle."

All eight of the U.S. military's MAFFS-equipped C-130 aircraft are operating from Sacramento. Two are assigned to the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing in Ventura County. The remaining six are based in other states but in California to drop fire retardant and build containment lines 3,000 gallons at a time.

Continued Cal Guard firefighting aerial missions include firefighting helicopters, medevac helicopters and remotely piloted and manned aircraft flying fire mapping and damage assessment flights.

"Predictions for September through December show statewide drier weather, with increased wind events and potential large fire activity to continue for the next three months," said Chief Thom Porter, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

"We know these are difficult times and we continue to use every resource available to fight these fires throughout the state as well as out of state resources from our mutual aid system and the Department of Defense," said Ghilarducci. "They are here to help, and I want to thank them for all of their tremendous commitment to California."
 

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