Panetta Commends Jacoby for Northcom Fire Assistance wildfires affecting Colorado Springs and the U.S. Air Force Academy

June 28, 2012

In an afternoon call to the commander of U.S. Northern Command, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta commended Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. for leading the Defense Departmentís effort to support the fight against Coloradoís raging wildfires.

The secretary also commended National Guard and Northcom support to the National Interagency Fire Center based in Boise, Idaho, which coordinates firefighting efforts.

A C-130 aircraft equipped with a modular firefighting system drops retardant on a section of the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs, Colo., June 26, 2012. Four of these aircraft, assigned to the Air Force's 302nd and 153rd airlift wings, are helping civil authorities combat the fire. The 302nd Airlift Wing is based on Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and the 153rd Airlift Wing is part of the Wyoming Air National Guard. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Doscher

Jacoby updated Panetta on the effort to quell wildfires affecting Colorado Springs and the U.S. Air Force Academy, and the secretary instructed the Northcom commander to provide assets to the extent they are needed by federal or state authorities.

The Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs has burned more than 18,500 acres of land, forcing the evacuation of at least 32,000 people and threatening more than 20,000 structures in the area, including many homes of military families.

Four C-130 aircraft equipped with U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems have so far flown 47 sorties dropping more than 100,000 gallons of fire retardant.

Acting under immediate response authorities, the Army has provided bulldozers, other heavy equipment and hundreds of soldiers to cut fire breaks. Twenty two fire trucks from five military bases, including the academy, have joined the effort. Military personnel are providing housing, meals and medical care at temporary shelters on Peterson Air Force Base and Fort Carson.

Panetta praised the Colorado Springs community for its resilience during the crisis, and Jacoby noted that the academy remained open to in-process the class of 2016.

The secretary concluded the call by asking Jacoby to keep him informed as firefighting efforts continue.

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