The apocalyptic scenes created by the massive wildfires in Oregon are just the beginning, officials have warned, as they continue to battle the crippling infernos that have killed at least 10 people in the state.
The fires began swallowing up large swaths of land on Sept. 7 and now a thick yellow smog hovers over much of the burning West.
However, those fighting the flames amid severe wind conditions in Oregon are handicapped on the air front, as six Chinooks helicopters and 60 soldiers from the state’s National Guard were deployed to Afghanistan in May.
The new F-model CH-47 Chinook helicopters – equipped with water buckets and used to fight crippling forest infernos – were sent to the long-running battleground as part of the potential Afghanistan drawdown mission.
“Chinooks are important for their heavy lift capabilities as they can carry equipment from one location to another efficiently,” Lt. Col. Joe Mendel stated at the time, explaining they would be used to resupply areas around Afghanistan.
These helicopters bestow unique capabilities in extinguishing wildfires, given that they carry large Bambi buckets capable of holding 2,000 gallons of water, totaling 18,000 pounds of water that can cover more than 300 feet of forest, an analysis by Vice found.