Saturday, September 2, 2017

Smoke grounds two National Guard helicopters going to fight Chetco Bar Fire

Grants Pass, Ore. - As the Chetco Bar Fire advances towards Josephine County, two Chinook helicopters had to land at Grants Pass Airport instead of continuing on to the Illinois Valley helipad to help fight the fire.

The two choppers arrived early Saturday morning from Pendleton, Ore. and had been out fighting other fires around the state. Due to the visibility being less than three miles, the helicopters could not take off again.

"It does limit the firefighting capability," Larry Graves, manager of the Grants Pass Airport, said. "If the helicopters can't see the fire and if the forward air controllers can't see fires or the helicopters, they can't direct traffic and everybody has to sit on the ground."

Because of the smoke in Grants Pass, the helicopters must wait until some of it clears up before heading out to the Illinois Valley.

One of the Chinook helicopters was en route to replace another helicopter there already fighting the Chetco Bar Fire.

One of the National Guardsmen said they typically have 12-day shifts and have been helping fight other fires around the area as well.

While the helicopters were grounded at the Grants Pass Airport, visitors there for Airport Day on Saturday could check out the helicopters. Those who arrived early enough even got to see the National Guardsmen practice rappelling down from them. 

Original article can be found here ➤

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