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Cal Guard Engineers Emplace Bridge Overnight to Allow Access to Wildfires

Date: 2015-08-09
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Story  via Cal Guard
Photos by Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza

CAL FIRE personnel assigned to the Rocky Fire in Northern California watch as the California Army National Guard’s 132nd Multirole Bridge Company (MRBC) from Redding, California, place a “bay” into the Cache Creek River Aug. 7 at Cache Creek National Park in Yolo County, California. Representatives from CAL FIRE as well as other government agencies were on hand to watch the California National Guard unit perform. (U.S. Army National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

At the request of the California Department of Fire and Forestry Protection (CAL FIRE) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CAL OES), California National Guard combat engineers have emplaced a temporary 220-foot bridge across Cache Creek in Yolo County so firefighting vehicles and equipment could access nearby wildfires. Previous to the construction of the bridge, CAL FIRE personnel spent several hours traveling around mountainous terrain to gain access to fires in the area.

 

Members of the 132nd Multirole Bridge Company (MRBC), California Army National Guard secure a temporary floating bridge Aug. 7 at Cache Creek National Park in Yolo County, California. The Redding, California unit was called to assist the ongoing Rocky Fire in northern California by erecting a temporary floating bridge that will grant CAL FIRE easier access to battle the wildfire.

“This operation was a perfect demonstration of how National Guard capabilities normally employed in combat can also help saves lives here at home,” said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, California’s Adjutant General. “We’re a community-based force, so coming to the aid of our neighbors is at the heart of the Cal Guard mission." 

About 30 Cal Guardsmen from the 132nd Multi-Role Bridge Company (MRBC), based in Redding, began working Friday afternoon to emplace the bridge near Road 40 and Highway 16. The operation required transporting the bridge several hours along narrow roads, reinforcing it to withstand at least 40 tons of equipment, satellite-phone communication in a deep valley without cell phone coverage, and navigating changing water levels brought on by the state’s drought conditions.

“It took some ingenuity to get the bridge to launch, but the unit worked through the night and by 3:45 a.m. they had the bridge completely operational,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Keels, commander of the Cal Guard’s 578th Engineer Battalion. “We have unique equipment and the ingenuity to solve complex issues in a short period of time. We look forward to further opportunities to bring more of these capabilities to support Cal OES and CAL FIRE in the future.”

A launch and retrieve team from the 132nd Multirole Bridge Company, California Army National Guard, use a steel guide line to move a ramp and bay over Cache Creek River.

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