Soldiers with the Alaska National Guard have been battling three separate wildfires across the state to assist state and local firefighters.
Members of the Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment and 297th Military Police Company have worked for several days to help fight the fires, according to an Army release.
Guardsmen used two UH-60 Black Hawks to drop water on the Montana Creek fire south of Talkeetna on July 4, They also prepared crews to be on call for additional response to the Anchorage fire in case more help was needed.
Soldiers in two Black Hawks had dropped about 66,000 gallons of water on the Anchorage fire in less than two hours on July 2.
Soldiers at the Montana Creek fire also worked to help save structures and property.
“Providing emergency response to natural disasters is one of the key missions that we train for,” Brig. Gen. Torrence Saxe, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, said in the release. “We have equipment, people, and experience, and we are ready to assist as needed when called upon.”
At the Shovel Creek fire, soldiers from the 297th Military Police Company out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson began July 1 to support efforts, including management and traffic control in the area 20 miles northwest of Fairbanks near Murphy Dome.
“Soldiers are manning traffic control positions 24/7,” Capt. Ralph Harris, commander of the 297th MP Company said in the release. “Some folks were asked to leave their homes, but had to return to their homes first to prepare; so our MPs check them in and out for accountability and to ensure people are aware of the unsafe roads for travel.”