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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota Air National Guard Provides Crash Rescue Support at Ham Lake Fire

On 14 May 2007, the 148th Fighter Wing deployed two firefighters and a P-19 Crash/Rescue vehicle to the Cook County Airport in Grand Marais Minnesota The mission was to provide Crash/Rescue Support to four heavy water dropping helicopters; three Sikorsky S-61 helicopters were staged at the Cook County Airport, and one Erickson Aircrane was staged 1/2 mile south at the old Devils Track abandon airfield The 133rd Airwing was also involved in the Ham Lake fire operations The 133rd Airwing provided two fire fighters to relieve the 148th members from their duties

The helicopters were all civilian contract company's that had been contracted by the US Forest Service to provide water dropping air support for the Ham Lake fire Three of the helicopter had installed a water storage tank on the under side of the helicopter, and one was equipped to carry a water dropping bucket The Erickson Aircrane was the most impressive bird of the four The Erickson Aircrane is used around to world for firefighting and construction operations The Aircrane was equipped with a 2,950 gallon water storage tank The Aircrane storage tank has seven different door opening drop positions, for the purpose of one massive water drop, or it can limit the water opening and disburse water over an extended fire line The Aircrane was also equipped with a hydraulic assisted jet-siphon tube that could fill its storage tank in 38 seconds

Helicopter water dropping operations were very heavy shortly after the fire started, and continued until Monday 14 May 2007 All four helicopter assigned to the Cook County Helibase were flying water dropping mission eight to ten hours a day Each helicopter would fly missions for approximately two hours, return to the Helibase, hot refuel, then return to the mission for another two hours of fire fighting After approximately four hours of flying, each helicopter crew would have to take a mandatory rest period If the contract company had two crews which some did, the helicopter would then almost immediately return to its fire fighting mission

The Cook County Airport was never closed during this operation, the US Forest Service had assigned Chris Havener as the initial Helibase Manager, to monitor all helicopter operations and movements The Helibase Manager is also in charge of all personnel and resources assigned to their Helibase The Helibase Manager has a large fiscal responsibility to ensure all the proper paper work is collected form the US Forest Service personnel and assigned contractors on a daily basis The Helibase Manager would then forwards the financial information to the main Incident Command Post (ICP), where this information is tracked to help calculate a total daily operations cost of extinguishing the fire

Incident Command System (ICS) which plays a huge roll during any fire, it is truly exemplified by the US Forest Service during a wildland forest fire The US Forest Service has developed a great process for implementing the Incident Command System (ICS) and utilizes all facets within the ICS process Incident Action Plans (IAP) are also created and briefed daily to all assigned personnel at the fire incident

14 May, 2007

Additional Wildland Fire Statisics according to the US Forest Service:

In 2006 the wildland fire season set records with the number of wildland fires and acres burned In 2006 there were a total of 96, 385 wildland fires reported, and over 9,873,429 acres that burned in the United States The Air National Guard was mobilized nine times to assist wildfires that burned in North Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, Oregon, California, and Minnesota

Ham Lake Fire Statistics:
Total acres burned: 75,851 36,443 acres in the US, 39,408 acres in Canada

Resources and Fire Cost: 16 Helicopters, 5 Engines, 17 Water Tenders, 4 Dozers, 3 Medium Air Tankers , 2 Heavy Air Tankers, Over 10 miles of firefighting hose, 693 Personnel
Estimated Cost as of 19 May 2007: $8,812,25800

May 14, Minnesota National Guard fights Ham Lake Fire photo gallery

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