Assets pour in nationwide to help battle California’s wildfires

09 September 2020

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USA – SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Officials with Cal Fire say, with 28 major fires burning around the state right now and nearly 14,000 firefighters on the ground, California has already broken a new record with more than 2.5 million acres burned.

“California has experienced more acres burned this year, to date, than any other year for the entire year and we’re only in the first nine months of the year,” Daniel Berlant, the Assistant Deputy Director for Cal Fire said.

Cal Fire called in for help, not only from fire departments on every corner of the state and surrounding western states, but also the National Guard with C-130s, the 747 Global Supertanker, and a DC-10 Air Tanker, just to name a few, all staging at McClellan Air Force Base.

“They are fighting fires up and down the state. They may drop on one fire and then we send them to another fire. Our air resources, nearly 100 right now, are constantly moved around based on the threats,” Berlant said.

Maj. Alex Kassebaum from the Nevada Air National Guard was one of many people called in to help. He’s a pilot of a C-130 that has been converted to help with wildfires through what’s called the “Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System” (MAFFS).

“They don’t channelize on the fires and the smoke around you, we just look at the line, we look at the escape, and we fly this aircraft as safe as possible,” Kassebaum said.

And even though his own family is back home in Nevada, he’s reminded daily of why he’s here.

“This is impacting neighboring states significantly, it’s hurting old people and we really need to make sure that we do our part as a guardsman to come over here and help extinguish these fires and that’s what everybody’s doing, that’s why we’re here,” he said.

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