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.
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.”