Army National Guard Black Hawk Teams Ready For High Fire Danger
TULSA, Oklahoma - Wednesday, there were several wildfires in parts of Oklahoma, and the potential for fires is expected to get worse over the next few days.
Oklahoma's Army National Guard is ready to help fight wildfires, with two of its Black Hawk teams already in Tulsa. The Black Hawks play a critical role in fighting wildfires because of the amount of water they can dump on a fire.
With strong winds and the severe drought across the state, this wildfire season is shaping up to be a potentially dangerous one.
The Army National Guard, including Black Hawk helicopters, are ready if they're needed.
Sergeant Chris Hall with the Oklahoma Army National Guard said, "That's a lot of water being put out on a fire."
The buckets can dump 660 gallons of water. Then, it only takes the soldiers minutes to get back in the air and back to fighting fires.
Hall is a crew chief when the Black Hawk is airborne.
"Getting out there and actually, you know, helping the community, it's a pretty good feeling. I love it," he said.
The men and women normally train for military combat missions, but their role as emergency responders in Oklahoma is just as important.
Chief Warrant Officer Ryan Johnson said, "This one's unique because we're going to be serving the people of Oklahoma, which has always been my favorite part of the Oklahoma Guard. It's a dear part of me and it has been for the last 14 years."
Johnson is a pilot for one of the crews on fire watch in Tulsa.
"When we're out there fighting fires, 15 minutes could mean a lot to a farmer who's land is on fire - the mission means a lot and it's very important that we act quickly,” he said.
Because of the extra fire danger, the crews will be on alert through the weekend.