Wisconsin National Guard helicopter crews travel to California to battle wildfires

Two Wisconsin National Guard Black Hawk helicopters and 15 soldiers have deployed to California to help battle wildfires.

Black Hawk helicopter crews from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation prepare to depart Madison for California to battle wildfires Friday.

The aircraft, crews and maintenance personnel from 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation left Madison on Friday. The Wisconsin soldiers will help the California National Guard which is supporting the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as fires rage out of control on the west coast.

The Madison-based unit is prepared to employ water buckets to battle fires and take on any other assigned missions.

As of Sunday, 16,750 firefighters were battling 29 major wildfires in California, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Two Black Hawk helicopters from the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation prepare to depart for California to battle wildfires Friday in Madison.

Wisconsin is among other state national guards responding to an Emergency Management Assistance Compact request from California.

“This is what we train for,” the unit’s commander, Lt. Col. Kurt Southworth said in a statement. “We regularly train for search and rescue, fire suppression, and many other missions to support our fellow citizens and communities, so when this call came in, our crews were ready to answer the call in a short amount of time.”