As the firefighting efforts in Colorado escalate, the U.S. Air Force is providing four C-130s to help bombard the Waldo Canyon blaze with thousands of gallons of flame retardant.
The aircrafts are fueled by Defense Logistics Agency Energy-procured JP8, as well as bulk lubricants for the aircrafts, and aviator breathing oxygen for the crew.
Two of the aircrafts are from the 302nd Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and the other two are from the 153rd Airlift Wing of the Wyoming Air National Guard in Cheyenne. Both air bases are supported by DLA Energy Americas at Houston.
Loaded into the cargo bays of the C-130s is the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, a self-contained, reusable aerial firefighting system, which can turn the aircraft into aerial firefighting tankers. The system can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60 feet wide.
The Waldo Canyon fire, which started June 23, was 5 percent contained before 65 mile an hour wind gusts allowed it to surge toward Colorado Springs forcing residential evacuations including the U.S. Air Force Academy.
As of June 27, the fire had expanded to 6,200 acres, according to news reports.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized the use of federal funds to assist in the fighting the Waldo Canyon fire after Colorado Springs and El Paso County declared an emergency.
“It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, after flying over the 9-square-mile fire late June 26. “It’s almost surreal. You look at that, and it’s like nothing I’ve seen before.”
The authorization makes FEMA funding available to pay 75 percent of the state’s eligible firefighting costs for managing, mitigating and controlling the fire. These grants do not provide assistance to individual home or business owners and do not cover other infrastructure damage caused by the fire, according to a FEMA news release.