Story by: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy
Posted: October 16, 2015
BASTROP, Texas -- The Texas Army National Guard’s aviation assets joined the fight to help its neighbors in Bastrop County battle a wildfire that ignited Oct. 13, 2015.
Since the initial request Tuesday evening, the Guard supported local officials and the Texas A&M Forest Service to help suppress the Hidden Pines fire that, as of Friday, has burned more than 4,500 acres of land and destroyed about 40 structures.
The TXARNG provided two UH-60 Black Hawks from the Austin Army Aviation Support Facility and two CH-47 Chinooks from Grand Prairie to support fire suppression efforts, with two additional UH-60 Black Hawks on standby from the Guard’s San Antonio facility.
As of 8 p.m. Thursday, the four TXARNG aviation crews flew nearly 50 hours and dropped nearly 700,000 gallons of water that they loaded into their Bambi Buckets from local lakes and ponds.
Bastrop County officials said the fire is 25 percent contained, but weather conditions may change that.
“The fire has spread and the wind has picked up today, so we’re bringing in more assets,” Chief Warrant Officer 2 David Schmidt, a line pilot from the Austin Army Aviation Support Facility, said Thursday morning.
The scene was too familiar to some area residents, aviators and Texans who remember the Bastrop County Complex fire just four years earlier that burned more than 34,000 acres of land not too far from the heavily-wooded Hidden Pines area where the fire continues to burn.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Drew Segraves, an instructor pilot from the Austin facility, said he remembers crews from the facility who helped battle the 2011 fire.
With the devastating Bastrop County Complex fire still fresh on their minds, TXARNG aviation crews continue to provide aerial fire suppression efforts.