Air Force suspends C-130 firefighting operations

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The military C-130 aircraft activated to assist with the Rocky Mountain region's firefighting efforts were stood down on July 2.

The fleet spent the day to get the MAFFS crews together to "reflect, reset and review," said Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander. "We all need to make sure our crews and planes will be ready to re-engage in the mission safely," he added.

One of the fleet's C-130s, from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, crashed early Sunday evening in South Dakota after assisting with the White Draw fire, in that state. That crash was the first in the 40-year history of the MAFFS program, a joint effort between the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Defense.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said the agency is deeply saddened by this tragic incident. "The agency fully supports the decision by the military to stand-down its MAFFS operation to address the needs of personnel and families and ensure the safety of the mission when it resumes. The agency will continue to allocate available firefighting assets according to the prioritization of incidents."

At this time it is not known when the MAFFS aircraft will resume operations.