Wildfire air support staging at Riverton Regional Airport

Earlier this week, thunderstorms started a few fires including one near Bull Lake here in Fremont County. Due to the remoteness of the fire, aircraft support was brought in to help extinguish it.

“We caught the fire and caught it pretty small,” said Henry Gilliland, Unit Aviation Manager for the Shoshone National Forest, Bighorn National Forest, and BLM Wind River/Bighorn Basin District. “Aircraft played a pretty large part in that.”

Helicopter Transport Services – Sikorsky CH-54B at RRA

If you’ve been near the Riverton Regional Airport this week, you’ve likely seen some additional activity due to this added support. “Definitely seeing a lot more aircraft this year than in the past,” Gilliland explained.

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COVID-19 being the big push for the high number of aircraft this year, he continued. Air support helps get the fires out a lot faster and helps with their goal of preventing firefighters from getting sick.

Pilots and support crew are now staging at the airport and waiting for their next fire call. While there this evening, Worland-based Sky Aviation’s U1-H1 HUEY left for a Thermopolis fire as the initial attack.

U1-H1 HUEY departing RRA for Thermopolis on 8/5
U1-H1 HUEY departing RRA for Thermopolis on 8/5

The Missoula Smokejumpers also landed in to refuel their C23B Sherpa at the airport while County 10 was there tonight. They dropped food and water supplies at the Bull Lake Fire, and are now headed back to their base in Montana.

C23B Sherpa refueling at RRA

“Everything seems pretty good so far this year,” Gilliland shared about the 2020 fire season. “It’s really dry and we are catching them small.”

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