Watch as a C-130 Flies Through Hell to Fight the Carr Wildfire

The big transports fly low in hazy conditions to drop fire retardant in just the right spot.

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YouTube

A new video shows a pair of C-130 transport aircraft on a flight through Hell, flying low through the smoke of a forest fire before spraying fire retardant on the smoldering ground below. The big transports fly along what appears to be northern California's Trinity River, through choking smoke, with patches of brightly burning flames visible on the ground.

Northern California’s Carr fire, first reported on July 23rd, has burned more than 177,000 acres, destroyed more than 1,000 houses, and killed eight, including two firefighters. More than two weeks later the mammoth fire, one of the largest in California’s history, is still just 48 percent contained.

The Pentagon dispatched U.S. military assets to fight the fire relatively early, and a MQ-9 Reaper drone from nearby Beale Air Force Base is to fire officials, allowing them to track the fire’s progress. (Or lack thereof.) Another military contribution: two C-130 transports equipped with the Modular Aerial Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS.

MAFFS are portable systems that can be rolled into the cargo hold of a C-130H or -J series transport. Each holds up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant, and can release all of the retardant in just five seconds. MAFFS can lay down retardant on an area a quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide, and can be refueled in just twelve minutes.

MAFFS Training 2018
A C-130 with the California Air National Guard deploying MAFFS during an exercise.
U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Nicole Wright

According to the there are eight MAFFS systems nationwide and four National Guard units are trained to support the mission. The two aircraft supporting the Carr Fire are probably from the .

Established by Congress in the 1970s, MAFFS is jointly operated by the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Defense. MAFFS owns the firefighting equipment, and the DoD owns the aircraft and provides the flight crews.

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