With wildfires scorching hundreds of thousands of acres across the western United States, the Air Force announced that it would be deploying more of its aircraft in support of the battle against the blazes.
U.S. Northern Command said four massive C-130 Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) airplanes were being readied immediately for deployment. Two MAFFS aircraft will be coming from Cheyenne's 153rd Airlift Wing, two from the 302nd Airlift Wing in Colorado Springs. All will be stationed out of Peterson Air Force Base.
The MAFFS aircraft will be able to provide a massive boost to firefighting efforts. The planes can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or retardant in less than five seconds and cover an area 100 feet wide and one quarter of a mile long.
MAFFS aircraft are owned by the Department of Defense while the U.S. Forest Service provides the equipment that is installed in them. DoD personnel fly and maintain the aircraft.
National Guard units from across the country have deployed to battle the fires raging across Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah in recent weeks. The personnel have provided security in some locations and their helicopters have been utilized to make water drops.
Much of the focus of the nation's firefighting efforts are on Colorado where the Centennial State's high country is under siege by wildfires.
The High Park Fire burning west of Fort Collins, Colorado has burned 81,190 acres. The blaze now ranks as the state's second largest on record and the most destructive. Nearly 2,000 personnel are fighting the fire that is only 45% contained.
On Saturday a new fire in Colorado erupted and is considered the number one firefighting priority in the nation. The Waldo Canyon Fire is burning west of Colorado Springs near the town of Manitou Springs. Nearly 10,000 residents including the entire town of Manitou Springs have been evacuated.
In New Mexico, the Whitewater Baldy Complex Fire has scorched an area encompassing nearly 465 miles. The blaze in the Gila National Forest has been burning for over a month and is now 87%contained. The Little Bear Fire near Ruidoso, New Mexico is also nearly contained but burned 44,330 acres in recent weeks.