The western U.S. is no stranger to wildfires, but this year is shaping up to be one of the worst in recent memory. Colorado is already experiencing intense blazes raging outside of Colorado Springs, and as first responders rush to get the fires under control, the military is lending a hand. In addition to offering support on the ground, helicopters and C-130s from the Reserve 302nd Airlift Wing have been brought in to fight the fires from the air, according to Military Times.
By Friday morning, the fires raging through Black Forest have been about 5 percent contained, and while that's progress compared to the earlier estimates, the area damaged by the flames is significant. Officials say that at least two people have died as a result and an estimated 379 homes have been destroyed. Additionally, 38,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and the fire has covered approximately 15,700 acres, The Denver Post reports.
Military plays increasing role
The C-130s were requested by the U.S. Forest Service on Tuesday, and by Wednesday they were up fighting the blaze. Each plane is equipped with the capability of discharging about 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant at once. Not only that, but it can be refilled and back in the air in just 12 minutes, proving that the planes are a vital tool in the fight against the wildfires. In addition to the C-130s, members of the National Guard are helping contain the blaze on the ground. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa is certainly thankful.
"Mother Nature has really challenged us the last couple days," Maketa told NBC's "Today" show. "Today is supposed to be another windy day, and having all those bodies will certainly be an asset, because it's really two fronts fighting the fire.
More than Colorado
Although Colorado has seen the most substantial fires so far, California has also been greatly affected this year. Earlier this month, flames hit communities located near Los Angeles and burned an estimated 41 square miles, causing the evacuation of around 1,000 homes, according to The Associated Press. Fires throughout New Mexico have also caused a significant amount of damage including to areas near the capital city of Santa Fe.