Coleville, Calif. -- U.S. Marine firefighters arrived on scene to support firefighting efforts for the Slink Fire near Coleville, California, Sept. 4, 2020.
The Marines, Crash Fire Rescue personnel with Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, joined the interagency firefighting force that has been battling the Slink Fire since it started Aug. 29, 2020.
“The Interagency requested support from the DoD for Crash Fire Rescue because of the increased number of aircraft supporting the fire moving toward the base,” said Col. Daniel Wittnam, commanding officer, MCMWTC.
The Interagency includes firefighters from multiple state fire departments, the U.S. Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management, with whom Marines from MCMWTC are integrated to battle the over 16,000 acre fire that is threatening training areas on the base that are important for Marine Corps Service Level Training.
“As a firefighter and as a Marine it feels pretty awesome to be able to be the first ones selected to come up here and provide this support on such short notice,” said Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Anderson, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of the Marines.
Anderson said that assisting all the agencies involved, the aircrews from around the country, and to help the efforts to get the Slink Fire contained and extinguished was a satisfying mission.
The Crash Fire Rescue detachment is integrated with the Aviation Operations Element of the Interagency responding to the Slink FIre operating in an improvised airfield, utilizing two P-19R firetrucks operated by eight Marines.
“We’re supporting their landing zone … operations in and out,” said Anderson. “That … involves having a crew on standby in case there’s any type of incident, fuel spill, hard landing, medical incident that happens within this LZ that we can respond to immediately.”
The training areas threatened by the Slink Fire are used for multiple mountaineering and cold weather warfare focused courses for Marines, sailors and other U.S. and partner nation service members.
The primary exercise conducted on the MWTC is Mountain Exercise, a part of a larger exercise facilitated by Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command out of Twentynine Palms, California called Service Level Training Exercise.
The exercise includes multiple events including Integrated Training Exercise - and the newest addition - Marine Corps Air Ground Task Force Warfighting Exercise. MWX is a modernized, force-on-force event that utilizes the vast Mojave Desert training grounds at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California.