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Military Plays Huge Role In Fighting Black Forest Fire

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(credit: United States Air Force Academy)

(credit: United States Air Force Academy)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.  (CBS4) – Part of the federal response to the Black Forest Fire is the huge role the military has played in battling the fire.

The Colorado Army National Guard helicopters have been launching from Buckley Air Force Base and heading down to the burn area on a daily basis. Military support has played a large role both in the air and on the ground in what they’re calling the “Battle of Black Forest.”

The battle calls for soldiers on the front lines fighting against flames fueled by Mother Nature. The military men and women on the ground and in the air say fighting the battle is an honor.

“It is great to be serving Americans, having served other countries for the last 10 1/2, 11 years,” Army Lt. Col. Mitch Utterback with the Colorado National Guard said.

National Guard crews are manning the helicopters that drop bucket loads of water on the flames and homes below, in many instances saving structures.

“If you get back to your home and you think you have something that looks like water damage to the roof, you owe a thanks to a helicopter pilot,” Utterback said.

Crews from the National Guard Civil Reaction Force are manning checkpoints and road closures to keep communities secure. Other military members from Fort Carson are also a part of the team.

“The first Chinooks and Black Hawks you see every morning flying from the south to the north are coming from Fort Carson,” Utterback said.

The Immediate Response Act brought military resources in to play much faster this time around than last year during the Waldo Canyon Fire. It allows for support like the C-130s from Peterson Air Force Base.

“They are happy to be doing what they’re doing and they’re doing a great job.”

Even the Air Force Academy is pitching in by sending soldiers in to the heart of the fight.

There are soldiers overseas whose homes here had to be evacuated. Some will return to find their homes gone.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

- Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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