Bandera State Airport Provides Emergency Staging for Wildland Firefighting Efforts

Helicopter and crew operating at Bandera State Airport (4W0) found the airport to be a perfect place for supporting the Crystal Lake Fire located in the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest along interstate 90 Snoqualmie Pass. Pilot Noel Larsen and Helicopter Manager Jason Hultman, assisted by Justin Fulbright and Fuel Support Technician Bryan Sinden, used a Bell UH-1, with water tank helicopter N345WN (modified Bell UH-1 w/water tank) from Washington State DNR, based at Olympia Airport to conduct initial attack efforts on a fire located on Granite Mountain, just below the lookout tower. When the helicopter arrived, crews located two hikers reported to be trapped at the lookout with a fire below that was blocking a nearby trail. The hikers were found safe and helicopter crew later escorted them down the mountain and had two helitack firefighters begin water dropping operations.

Meanwhile, the fuel support truck arrived at Bandera and the close proximity to the fire allowed crews to drop water through the helicopters full two-hour fuel cycle, conduct hot refueling, and continue suppressing the fire. The water drops were reported to be very effective.

The remote location and time of day meant the helicopter was the only asset able to work the fire on day one. On day two, forest service crews hiked to the fire and the helicopter returned to Bandera for cargo operations. Loads were assembled at Bandera and flown to crews at a drop site above the fire.

The helicopter returned to Bandera on the third day for a quick cargo backhaul. Helicopter Manager Jason Hultman reports that “4W0 was essential in our success with all missions flown by 345WN on the Crystal Lake Fire.”

  • Water dropped: 10,560 gallons.
  • Cargo delivered: 2700 lbs.