It was “by far the toughest flying I have ever done”, said helicopter pilot about rescuing trapped people at the Creek Fire

Over 300 were rescued

rescued by California National Guard helicopter
Civilians in a Chinook that were rescued by a California National Guard helicopter and crew. CNG photo.

As of noon Tuesday, California National Guard and U.S. Navy helicopters had rescued 362 people and 16 dogs that had become trapped as roads were blocked by the fast moving Creek Fire northeast of Fresno, California. Civilians extracted from the Edison Lake and China Peak areas were flown to the Fresno airport in Blackhawks, Chinooks, and a Navy Seahawk.

Rescued people arrive at Fresno Creek Fire
People who were rescued from the Creek Fire arrive at Fresno airport September 8, 2020. California National Guard image.

Examples of their missions Tuesday at Lake Edison:

  • A Stockton-based Cal Guard Ch-47 chinook evacuated 46 people and four dogs.
  • A U.S. Navy SH-60 Seahawk helicopter rescued 17 people and one dog.
  • Two Cal Guard UH-60 Black Hawks and one CH-47 Chinook rescued 65 people.

Not all of the attempts to rescue people were immediately successful. On some missions poor visibility caused by smoke forced pilots to abort and try again later. Some of the flights were at night and were accomplished with the assistance of night vision goggles.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Creek Fire click HERE.)

One of the helicopter pilots said in an interview posted at the Sacramento Bee (below) that he has been shot at while flying for the Army but, “[T]he stress and added workload of going in and out of that fire every time is by far the toughest flying I have ever done.”

Map of the Creek Fire
Map of the Creek Fire at 8:41 p.m. PDT September 7, 2020.

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6 thoughts on “It was “by far the toughest flying I have ever done”, said helicopter pilot about rescuing trapped people at the Creek Fire”

  1. My crew and I were plucked off a ridgeline 30 years ago by a Air National Guard ship with a female pilot. Undoubtedly the gutsiest pilot I ever had the honor to fly with. Set the ship on one skid on a rock pile to get us out of the way of a fire making major runs. I saluted Her and told her thanks then and I salute and pass on my thanks now to the brave and selfless Captains and crews. Heroes All.

  2. Thank you to these Great Americans. My husband has gotten similar remarks from former military pilots flying fires. Stay safe everyone.

  3. This was so heroic, brave thank you… for your super flying skills, and all your efforts to save these poor people trapped.

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