Long-time tenant of former McClellan AFB provides lifeline to firefighters

  • Published
  • By Scott Johnston
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – One after another, massive aircraft are continuously making a giant loop from the former McClellan Air Force Base, heading north to Butte County to fight the deadliest and most destructive fire in California’s history.

For 65 years, McClellan served the nation as an air depot before closing in 2001. Today, it’s a redeveloped business park and home to more than 230 tenants, which employ about 15,000 people. One of the most notable tenants is the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire.

“Cal Fire has been a tenant here for a long time,” said the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s McClellan Base Environmental Coordinator Steve Mayer. “The service they provide in fighting these devastating fires continues the long history of McClellan serving this area and country.”

McClellan is an ideal location for Cal Fire planes to load up on the retardant used to help extinguish fires like the Camp Fire that began Nov. 8 and was 100 percent contained on Nov. 25. 

Cal Fire reported on Nov. 26 the blaze has claimed the lives of at least 85 people and has left thousands of families homeless. The fire burned more than 153,000 acres. More than 13,000 homes were destroyed.

Throughout the fire season, McClellan has been a launching pad for a number of fire-fighting aircraft capable of dropping thousands of gallons of retardant in a single pass.

One of the former base’s anchor tenants, Cal Fire formed a reuse partnership at McClellan shortly after the base closed in 2001.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission selected McClellan for closure in 1995. Close coordination between the AFCEC and Sacramento County along with master developer McClellan Business Park has transformed the former base into a thriving corporate campus. 

AFCEC Installations Directorate manages the disposal of Air Force property in accordance with Base Realignment and Closure law. The goal of the Air Force base closure division is to return value to the Air Force and local communities by transferring surplus military property while ensuring the protection of human health and the environment on former military installations.