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National Guard Wildfire Pilots' Heroic Efforts

Veteran News
Veteran News
December 1, 2016
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When emergencies call for water to put out a wildfire, the pilots who carry it to the scene will get it from just about anywhere they can. For the Chesney family in Walland, Tennessee, that source happened to be right in their backyard."The helicopters started coming in on Monday. It would take the helicopter four minutes to get the water, drop it on the fire, and come back again," Larry Chesney told WBIR. "We just stocked that pond with fish a couple of weeks ago, so I guess those fish are somewhere up on the mountain.""We'll definitely never forget it. When the helicopter flies in, you get behind a pole or a tree because it will almost knock you down with the wind and the water spray. I got wet and sandblasted at the same time," said Hilda, Larry's wife.


The pilots were with the 1-230th Army National Guard, who were responding to the emergency call for help with the fires that have raged across the state for several days. The source is suspected to be manmade, either by accident or arson.But rather than react with annoyance or anger at the emptying of their pond, the Chesney's decided to take some action themselves. The pond was drying up, and the pilots would waste precious time looking for and traveling to another source of water. So, they pulled out their hoses."We ran a bunch of hoses from the house to the pond and turned them on full blast. They've been running non-stop since Monday. As long as they [the pilots] wanted to keep getting water here, we wanted to do anything we could to help," Larry said.This tremendous gesture was one of the most generous these pilots say they've ever seen.[caption id="attachment_9081" align="aligncenter" width="640"]


source: WBIR[/caption]"In this situation, there's a lot of land up here on fire. There are houses at stake," said pilot BJ Koons. "Them running water hoses to the pond really helped out a lot. This pond is a few minutes closer than our other main source at Perry's Mill Dam. Getting water from here saved a lot of time and gas, so we can drop more buckets to help fight the fire."More buckets mean more fires quenched in a short amount of time. The pilots are crediting the Chesneys for saving several cabins that may have otherwise been destroyed.The Chesney's utility company said that they will work with the family on what will likely be a very large water bill.

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