2:44pm

Fri June 29, 2012
Wildfires

Entire MAFFS C-130 Fleet Activated To Fight Western Wildfires

The US Forest Service has mobilized four additional military C130’s to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in Colorado bringing the entire fleet into service. The last time all eight of the specially equipped planes were activated was 4 years ago.

With multiple fires still burning across the state, The Department of Defense approved the activation of the C130’s equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System called MAFFS. The four new tankers will be ready to fly missions over Colorado fires by Saturday.

The planes are from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, and from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard.

The Forest Service says with the additional planes, the civilian tanker fleet now numbers 22 large air tankers or heavies with one DC 10 on call when needed. There are also 3 planes on standby to join the fleet from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.

The activation of the entire MAFFS fleet is rare and only happens when the entire civilian air tanker fleet is in active service and unable to adequately fight multiple fires. 

The planes will be based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs,  along with the 4 MAFFS that are already based there (2 from the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, and 2 from the 302nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado). 

In a statement released by the US Forest Service, officials say Firefighters continue to make progress on the Waldo Canyon fire and more than 1,100 federal, state and local firefighters, over 80 fire engines and eight helicopters are fighting the fire today in the hillsides west of Colorado Springs.

Joint Federal, state and local damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated as part of the disaster declaration after the assessments are fully completed.

According to defense.gov, the four MAFFS C-130's currently flying over Colorado have dropped 138,398 gallons of fire retardant over the Waldo Canyon Fire, in El Paso County and the Flagstaff Fire, in Boulder County.