Tennessee Guardsmen respond to East Tennessee wildfires

Thursday, March 31, 2022 | 03:18pm

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – At the request of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, the Tennessee National Guard is providing six UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to support the wildfire response near Pigeon Forge, March 31.

Around 8 a.m. EST, the first two Blackhawk helicopters departed from McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base with Bambi Buckets used to provide hundreds of gallons of water to fight wildfires. Each aircraft will make multiple trips. The Blackhawks will pick up water from nearby water sources and transport it directly to the needed area. Two more Blackhawks crews are scheduled to depart at 10 a.m. and two more crews at noon.

Crewmembers with Detachment 1, Company C, 1- 171st Aviation Regiment, based in Knoxville, were alerted, and began preparations on March 30.

Bambi Buckets are a specialized bucket system suspended from a helicopter to deliver water for aerial firefighting. Each bucket has a release valve on the bottom which is controlled by the helicopter crew.