Air Force Called to Attack Southwest Wildfires

Yahoo Contributor Network

Once again, the aerial firefighters of the U.S. Air Force have been called to action. With the Wallow Fire and the Horseshoe 2 Fire still spreading along the Arizona-New Mexico border, the unique abilities of the 146th Airlift Wing (California Air National Guard, Channel Islands) and the 145th Airlift Wing (North Carolina Air National Guard, Charlotte) have been requested. Four C-130 aircraft equipped with the modular MAFFS 2 fire retardant spraying system have been sent to New Mexico.

These units and their sister units from Colorado and Ohio have seen duty fighting the Texas wildfires earlier this year and the Southern California wildfires in 2008. They have also been deployed to fight fires in Mexico, Israel and to train their counterparts in Thailand.

The Wallow Fire is now reported to have burned 519,000 acres. Nearly 3,600 men and women are fighting this fire, which has destroyed 32 homes and several dozen other buildings. Driven by gusty winds, the fire continues to spread to the northeast and farther into New Mexico. The fire is 51 percent contained, primarily on the western and northern flanks. There have been no fatalities and 12 people injured. An estimated date for fire containment has not been determined.

South of the Wallow Fire, the Horseshoe 2 fire is still burning. It is about 80 percent contained and full containment is expected by midweek. It has burned more than 213,000 acres and 23 structures.

Along the Mexican border to the west of these two fires, the Monument fire has burned 27,000 acres. It grew by 6,000 acres overnight. It is located just east of Hereford, Ariz. 1,100 firefighters are working this fire and it is 27 percent contained. Full containment is not expected until mid-July.

Just north of Santa Fe, N.M., the Pacheco Canyon fire continues to grow. High winds on Sunday drove the fire east and forced aircraft to remain on the ground. Red Flag conditions in this area mean that there is a high risk of wildfires due to the mix of winds, severe drought conditions and low humidity.

Upstate New York resident Charles Simmins brings 30 years of accounting and finance experience and a keen interest in military affairs to the news of the day. His years of experience working with the personnel of the Secretary of Defense's New Media activity on Bloggers' Roundtables provide insights often overlooked by other reporters.

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