National Guard Provides Critical Support to High Park Fire
Incident: High Park Fire Wildfire
National Guard soldiers and supervisors stepped up to provide invaluable support to the High Park Fire after Governor John Hickenlooper activated the Guard on June 9 through the State Emergency Operations Plan. During their stint on the fire, these volunteers have missed weddings, business transactions, or job interviews. Many Guardsmen come from Colorado Springs and other areas affected by fire.
Guard personnel have wanted to integrate thoroughly to accomplish missions. "They have been cooperative, supportive, engaged, and continually positive," said Great Basin Team 1 Operations Chief Billy Britt.
On June 10, soldiers made the Fort Collins Readiness Center available for the fire Incident Command Post (ICP). The ICP and base camp, remained at the Center until June 30, and was home to as many as 2,000 firefighters during the peak of the incident.
On June 10, Army NG UH-60 Black Hawks equipped with 500 gallon buckets, operated by soldiers from Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas, and Nebraska, began dropping water on the fire. By June 22, the Black Hawks had dropped 82,000 gallons. The Guard also shared a Blackhawk medivac helicopter with hoist for potential medical transports.
A dozen soldiers from the Colorado Army National Guard's 1157th Engineer Firefighter Company deployed heavy expanded mobility tactical trucks with eight tires, along with water tenders on June 12. Crews conducted a mobile attack and used more than 36,000 gallons of suppressants.
Wyoming Air National Guard made four C-130 Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) air tankers and crews available on June 25 that have since been used to fight fires in Boulder and Colorado Springs.
The communities around the High Park Fire have seen National Guard members mostly at road checkpoints. Since the first week of the fire, nearly 100 Colorado National Guard military police have staffed checkpoints 24 hours, working 12-hour shifts every day at up to 13 different checkpoints, to support the Larimer County Sheriff in preventing unauthorized access to evacuated neighborhoods.