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Fire danger climbs!
Crews practice for the real thing

Al Branine, DNRC Swan Unit Fire Supervisor attended the annual training at the Swan Valley Work Center. Branine said that the helicopters play an important role in fighting fire in Montana.

The Huey UH-1H is demonstrating to ground crews the different types of water spreads. This photo at the top shows the water spread at 40 knots. The crews watched spreads at 0, 20, 40 and 60 knots. (20 knots is about 25 miles per hours). This Huey can carry a 6-person crew, all their gear and the pilots. The photo below leftt shows the Huey dropping water while hovering over a particular spot. This drop is used for hot spots or flair-ups. This bucket carries 260 gallons of water. The coverage on the ground will depend on the altitude. The maximum speed for this Huey is 120 knots.

Firefighting crews learn about the collapsible BAMBI bucket carried
by the Blackhawk, which carries 600 gallons of water.

by Patricia Swan Smith

For the Pathfinder
July 22, 1999

As of July 20th, all open burning in the Seeley Swan Valley has been suspended due to fire danger. Clearwater DNRC Fire Supervisor Colin Moon said that fire danger conditions are similar to that of 1994, which surpassed all records for wildland fires since 1910.

The Swan DNRC (Department of Natural Resources and Conservation) Unit had their first lightning fire Monday night, and it burned about three-quarters of an acre according to the Swan Unit Fire Supervisor Al Branine.

"Conditions are very dry for this time of year," Branine said. "We are still at 'moderate' danger, but with continued hot weather conditions we will probably be at 'high' danger next week."

DNRC has been gearing its crews up since spring with numerous training sessions at the Swan Valley Work Center. The latest training involved the annual DNRC Helicopter Operations Workshop. This workshop gives pilots and ground crews experience with water and foam drops, transporting of cargo and fire crews as well as understanding the different water spreads used to fight wildland fires. Water spreads vary with altitude and speed.

DNRC is an initial attack agency and the helicopters are often the quickest way to get crews and water to a fire due to road closures and/or the remote location of many of the wildland fires.

The crews trained with a National Guard Blackhawk, a Huey UH-1H and a Jet Ranger.

Photos by
Tom McIsac

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