Wildland Fire Center helps protect Beale from fast-moving blaze

  • Published
  • By Bethany Martin
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas – The Air Force Civil Engineer Center Wildland Fire Center joined installation and local firefighters to extinguish a nearly 1,000-acre wildfire that threatened housing and other structures June 8 at Beale Air Force Base, California.

The Intanko Wildland Fire began barreling toward the base shortly after 2 p.m. Pushed by strong winds, the fire spread quickly near Beale’s Vassar Lake Gate. 

The AFCEC team, Cal Fire and other local fire departments provided hose support, laid down protective burnout fires and established control lines. Hose support was used to quell active areas of the fire, while control lines and burnout fires served to remove brush around structures in the path of the fire.

The team helped protect 375 homes, evacuate 1,125 residents and preserve almost $84 million worth of real estate, said Col. Heather Fox, commander of Beale’s 9th Reconnaissance Wing.

“I can’t express how proud I am of the 9th Civil Engineer Squadron and AFCEC teammates for coming together and successfully responding to a rapidly evolving and dangerous situation. It’s a testament to Lt. Col. (Travis) Guidt and Fire Chief (Kevin) Smith’s leadership,” she said. “I am very thankful the Wildland team is assigned to Beale AFB. They made an incredible difference to our installation this week.”

The collaboration between the various organizations battling the fire made the difference, said Guidt, 9th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.

“We faced a massive threat close to home and came out with no loss of life and no damages to our buildings,” he said. “Without the amazing assistance of these agencies, I’m certain Beale would have lost homes and other structures.”

The Wildland Support Module and Fire Emergency Services host training and drills at the base to prepare for scenarios such as the Intanko Wildland Fire, including conducting the state’s largest prescribed burn that took place days before the wildfire. Special fire prevention support is provided at Beale due to highly flammable native crops and a notably dry winter in 2020.

“These high-risk situations are always met with a lot of urgency from our teams,” said Timothy Bradley, Air Force western fire management officer. “Facing a fire like this head on requires a cool head, advanced skillset and continued communication.”