GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Firefighting aid from Oregon for the ruinous blazes in Southern California is increasing and includes helicopters, fire engines, Red Cross volunteers and at least one fire crew.
The fires have chased at least 500,000 people from their homes and are out of control, partly because of winds.
Carson Helicopter in Grants Pass has sent four S61 Fire King choppers that hold 1,000 gallons of water, said Joseph Rice, director of operations.
The S61s were built specifically for battling wildfires around urbanized areas in high winds. It's size makes it stable in the wind and its speed means it can make more water drops, he said.
Superior Helicopter of Grants Pass has a Kaman Kmax chopper working the fires. The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest sent three fire engines with three crew members each. The Medford Interagency Fire Center dispatch sent 10 fire engines, and eight other support people. About 23 engines have been sent from the Northwest.
The engines carry from 200 to 300 gallons of water
Mike Wheelock, owner of Grayback Forestry, a private firefighting and forestry company based in Merlin, said his company sent one fire truck and a 20-person ground crew. Monday evening two volunteers were dispatched from the Southern Oregon chapter of the American Red Cross to assist in relief operations.
More help was sent from Eugene, Portland and Medford.
The Oregon Military Department said Tuesday it is in contact with the California National Guard and is ready to provide one UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter, both equipped with water buckets. The department said other help can be provided if it is needed.