National Guard Assists Cal Fire

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. George Solis
  • 144th Fighter Wing

Over 400 California National Guardsmen supported Cal Fire to help contain the Carr Fire, one of the largest wildfires in California’s history. Guardsmen, primarily from Southern California Army National Guard units, are working as Type II Hand Crews to assist with the fire fighting efforts.

"We’re trained by Cal Fire to tackle Type-II wildfire work, which is not the smokejumpers or the hotshots, but to be a little bit behind them in more of the black areas," said U.S. Army Maj. Caleb Christians, Task Force 144 Executive Officer. "What they encounter is sometimes putting out hot spots, maybe smoldering or burning trees, cutting handline, retrieving hose, putting hose together across a lot of difficult and challenging terrain."

Many of the members of Task Force 144 have recent experience with working as Type 2 hand crews. According to Army 2nd Lt. Garrett Arnold, a member of Task Force 144 Hand Crew 5, "A lot of our guys are returning members from the previous fire up at the Salmon August one and the Mission Fire. There are a few new guys here, but they’re learning quickly. They’re looking forward to working hard and getting ahead of the fire."

The Type 2 hand crew work being done by guardsmen in affected areas of the Carr Fire is greatly appreciated by Cal Fire.

"They’ve helped us out all over the state of California," said Cal Fire Public Information Officer Israel Pinzon. "They’re essential because they’re doing work just as good as a Type 2 hand crew that could be from a federal resource."

The Carr Fire has burned over 225,000 acres of land and destroyed over 1,000 homes.