WASHINGTON, April 21, 2016 —
Members of Joint Task Force Bravo deployed to Panama last week to help fight wildfires that threatened lives in the country’s Darien province, a Pentagon spokesman said today.
Service members with the U.S. Southern Command task force, based at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras, took part in the mission at the invitation of the Panamanian government, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters at the Pentagon.
"Approximately 100,000 gallons of water have been dropped, keeping dozens of fires at bay and helping to protect more than 45,000 people who live in the area," Davis said.
Personnel, Helicopters, Firefighting Equipment
Joint Task Force Bravo deployed 28 personnel to the region, along with two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, Davis said. The helicopters were outfitted with hoist capacities and a bucket firefighting system for dropping water from the air.
"Multiple indigenous communities were under threat of being destroyed by these wildfires," Davis said, noting the United States stepped in to help after Panamanian capabilities were overwhelmed.
The mission is complete, and the crews have returned to Honduras, Davis noted.
Task force officials said small wildfires emerged earlier in the month and rapidly spread, becoming a threat to villages and to Panama Canal support infrastructure. The fires were in a highly inaccessible area where local response capabilities are limited, officials said, necessitating aerial support from Joint Task Force Bravo.
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