NEWS | June 5, 2009

JTF-Bravo helps Honduran firefighters douse blaze on wildlife preserve

By Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Danet Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

A team of 10 Joint Task Force-Bravo Soldiers and Airmen responded to help fight a fire in a protected national wildlife reserve near Tela, Honduras, June 3. 

The fire started early Monday afternoon in National Park Jeannette Kawas but was in an area inaccessible by ground due to the swampy terrain. Consuming more than 100 acres, the fire continued to smolder and burn after heavy rains and the attention of seven firefighters from the Tela Fire Department. 

"We are worried and we can only observe because there is no entrance through the swamps," said Sgt. Daniel Mayen, officer in charge of the firefighting operation, in an interview with La Prensa newspaper. "We hope they send helicopters to drop water in the burning zone. In this area the vegetation could disappear." 

Upon receiving the call through the Honduran Commission for Permanent Contingencies, Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment here, flying a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, dropped more than 60,000 gallons of water -- completely dousing the blaze from the air. Meanwhile, civil affairs, command and control Soldiers, and an Air Force communications specialist coordinated efforts with Honduran firefighters on the ground. 

Sergeant Mayen said the fire spread after a family living nearby lost control of a burn on their property. According to officials at JTF-Bravo, the fire was extinguished as of 3 p.m. Wednesday.