U.S. Forest Service signs contract for Black Hawk helicopter to fight wildfires in East Texas

Angelina County Black Hawk Helicopter
Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 7:52 PM CDT
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ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Forest services have been battling wildfires all summer long, and with it being the busiest season in recent memory, they have now contracted with a state agency to bring in a previous used military aircraft to Deep East Texas.

A Black Hawk helicopter now sits at Angelina County Airport, ready to take off at any given time to fight wildfires. Tim Beck of the U.S. Forest Service said they are in a ‘call when needed’ contact with five states. Helicopters that will serve all of East Texas and if needed, nearby states.

With its bucket line running 100 feet long, this aircraft specializes in bucket drops, taking water to the fires and cooling down the areas. Ryan Burns with the Texas A&M Forest Service said, “it’s been a long, dry summer and this helicopter, and working in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service to get this aircraft, has been a key component in getting these fires contained lately.” He said having access to this type of aircraft will save time and make it easier for ground services.

On the site you will also find its maintenance truck and a 3,000 gallon fuel tank. One fuel cycle provides two hours in the air.

“With this aircraft specifically, it could lift about 6,500 pounds of water. It does have a 780 pound bucket with it, with an enteral tank as well, which is capable of a thousand gallons,” said chief pilot Bobby Smith. Whenever they get a call for a wildfire, they deploy with a group of four people on board: two pilots, a mechanic and a field service driver. “The lift capabilities and its speed enables it’s a great asset,” said Smith.

The U.S. Forest Service said the Black Hawk helicopter will reside at the airport until fire danger decreases in the area.

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