By JUSTINE FREDERIKSEN
|California Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopter wrenches a 660-gallon water bucket out of an aqueduct to deposit water on fires still smoldering in the Sequoia National Forest near Kernville, Calif.|
"This is very frustrating," said Col. Lou Carmona, explaining that the CH-47 helicopter was parked at what he believed was a "secure helibase" when someone broke into it, causing damage and stealing several thousand dollars worth of equipment.
"I am really disappointed," Carmona continued, adding that he "wrote so many memos" to keep the helicopter in California "strictly for firefighting." He said there are 12 such helicopters in California and the rest are being used for operations in Afghanistan.
Carmona said the helicopter here is based out of Stockton and has been aiding firefighting efforts in the area for the past 12 days, helping drop water on the North Pass Fire in Covelo and more recently the Scotts Fire east of Ukiah in Lake County.
"It took a lot of work to get this thing in here, and then to have it broken into and equipment stolen, I'm really pissed off," Carmona continued, describing the equipment as a satellite phone, an aviation GPS unit and various tools. "I would love to see the person who did this caught."Carmona said the helicopter was grounded for repairs and will remain at the airport for a "couple more days while we make the repairs."
He said the Army National Guard believed the helicopter was stored in a "secure helibase with roving security," and therefore did not "set up a perimeter of armed guards around it at night."
Ukiah Police Department Capt. Justin Wyatt confirmed a helicopter was broken into at the airport Sunday night but had no further details.
Anyone with information can call the UPD at 463-6262.
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal - Link