Guam's burning: local, military firefighters to the rescue
As flames engulfed 450 acres of land along Cross Island Road in Santa Rita, local and federal firefighters along with the Island Knights from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, partnered to battle the blaze May 9. Joint Region Marianas Fire and Emergency Services, the Guam Fire Department, and the Department of Agriculture Forestry Division provided ground firefighting near a brush fire that quickly spread and threatened the Naval Magazine and homes in Santa Rita. HSC-25 was notified shortly after noon that the fire required the command's immediate assistance as the large scale fire could not be contained by firefighters on the ground.
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 drops water on a fire in Santa Rita May 9. Photo by Kenji Yagi/U.S. Navy
Aircraft Commander Lt. Nicklaus Gfeller and his crew assisted in successfully containing the fire by dropping 28,140 gallons of water during the six-hour mission. "Our primary focus was to save the homes and structures in the fire's path," said Gfeller. "Thankfully Guam Fire was able to place a portable water reservoir in a nearby cul-de-sac so we could minimize time spent transporting water from the Fena Valley Reservoir in order to maximize the amount of water on the fire." The incident was just the latest in an HSC-25's ongoing endeavor to help safeguard the local community and properties from fires. "This is the third time in two months that we have been able to launch and save houses, and structures from devastation due to wildfires, said Cmdr. Frank Loforti, HSC-25 commanding officer. "I am extremely proud of the squadron's ability to help protect the local community. We would not be able to support without the finest maintainers, support team, and aircrews in the fleet, and I couldn't be prouder to say that the squadron is always ready." The fire was extinguished at approximately 10 p.m. with no reports of structural damage or injuries to the community or first responders. HSC-25 provides a multi-mission rotary wing capability for units in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations and maintains a Guam-based 24-hour search and rescue and medical evacuation capability, directly supporting U.S. Coast Guard and Joint Region Marianas. HSC-25 is the Navy's only forward-deployed MH-60S expeditionary squadron.