News: Kansas guardsmen conduct first Colorado firefighting mission
Story by Staff Sgt. Jessica Barnett
FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Soldiers of the Kansas National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 108th Aviation Regiment and Company G, 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion carried out their first mission to assist firefighting operations underway in Colorado today. The Guardsmen deployed to Colorado June 12 at the request of that state’s emergency management officials to support ongoing ground firefighting efforts in an area at the High Park in Larimer County, Colo., approximately 15 miles west of Fort Collins.
The crew provided structure protection by delivering more than 8,000 gallons of water, totaling 18 buckets in two and a half hours.
"We train for Bambi bucket missions on a regular basis," said Sgt. Ryan Kohlman, standardizations instructor with Company G, 2-135th GSAB. "The training really pays off when we are called to other states in their hour of need."
Prior to conducting their mission, the Kansas guardsmen were updated on the current situation and mission to familiarize themselves with the terrain, flying conditions and the location of water sources for the 660-gallon Bambi bucket they use to release water on target areas.
"The flight crews and support members were ready and eager to go," said Maj. Gen. (KS) Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general. "Today’s flight went off without a hitch and they are looking forward to resuming their mission tomorrow."
The Kansas Guardsmen will remain in Colorado for up to 15 days, depending on the progress of firefighting operations, conducting Bambi bucket missions. Currently, the lightning-caused fire is 10 percent contained. So far it has burned more than 52,000 acres and destroyed approximately 100 homes and other structures. Approximately 1,000 firefighting personnel are involved.
The aircrew is working in junction with other National Guard aircrews and support teams from Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming as part of the emergency management assistance compact, a mutual-aid agreement that allows state-to-state assistance during declared states of emergency, which allows unaffected states to provide resources to affected states including the use of National Guard forces and equipment.
Kansas aviation units have deployed to Oklahoma and Texas in 2006 to help fight grass fires and to California in 2008 to assist with wildfire operations.