PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airmen from the Air Force Reserve's 302nd Airlift Wing flew their first aerial firefighting support missions of the year June 12, dropping fire retardant on the growing Black Forest fire in Colorado’s El Paso County.
Wing aircrews fighting the nearly 9,000-acre blaze performed 10 drops, releasing about 25,000 gallons of fire retardant from U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130 Hercules aircraft, helping to contain the fire's path.
The fire had destroyed 360 homes, was threatening others, and was at zero percent containment, according to El Paso County sheriff's office officials.
Two other prominent fires are also burning in Colorado. These include the Royal Gorge fire near Canon City and the Big Meadows fire west of Fort Collins. Both of the wing's MAFFS-equipped C-130s are dedicated to supporting Southwest and Rocky Mountain area wildland fires.
The MAFFS system is a self-contained, portable aerial firefighting system that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds over an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60 feet wide. Once a load is discharged, the MAFFS system can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the 302nd Airlift Wing's aerial firefighting mission. Since 1993, the wing's reservists and C-130s have supported numerous firefighting efforts, including Colorado's 2002 Hayman fire, California's Big Sur fire in 2008 and the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire in nearby Colorado Springs.