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Polis authorizes Colorado National Guard to help with search and rescue, traffic control for wildfires

Black Hawk crew based in Gypsum for S&R, crews sent to Larimer Co. for traffic control
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Posted at 5:16 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 19:18:42-04

DENVER – Gov. Jared Polis on Friday verbally authorized the Colorado National Guard to help with helicopter search and rescue assistance and traffic control points on the four major wildfires burning across the state.

At the request of the State Emergency Operations Center, a Colorado Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk crew is on standby at the training site in Gypsum – just east of the Grizzly Creek Fire – for search and rescue capabilities and evacuating firefighters and residents.

The National Guard was also asked to provide up to 30 soldiers to establish 24-hour traffic control points in Larimer County to be sure people are not getting into restricted areas near the Cameron Peak Fire.

“Our Colorado National Guard Citizen Warriors are ready to provide additional capabilities to the SEOC and incident commanders to help save lives, reduce suffering, and prevent great property damage from the wildfires,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Laura Clellan, who will on Saturday become the 44th adjutant general of the Colorado Army National Guard.

The governor’s office said the Colorado National Guard’s Mobile Testing and Training teams would also be able to provide COVID-19 testing support to wildland firefighters.

“Whether it’s the fight against COVID or the fight against drought-induced wildfires, Colorado’s National Guard is ready to rise to the challenge to help our communities,” Polis said in a statement. “We are thankful to the Guardsmen and women for their support during this challenging time.”