by Carlos E. Castañeda

(CBS SF) — Hundreds of California National Guard soldiers and airmen have been added to the fight against wildfires throughout the state, according to the Defense Department.

Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said Monday more than 440 National Guard personnel have been activated to help Cal Fire’s firefighting efforts.

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Along with the troops, the Pentagon has four Mobile Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) staged at McClellan Air Tanker Base near Sacramento.

C-130 equipped with a MAFFS system sprays retardant over a wildfire. (Department of Defense)

C-130 equipped with a MAFFS system sprays retardant over a wildfire. (Department of Defense)

The MAFFS are specially-equipped C-130 military cargo planes used to drop fire retardant on wildfire areas.

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The military call-ups and MAFFS deployments are in support of the Boise, Idaho-based National Interagency Fire Center’s (NIFC) efforts to fight fires throughout Northern Calfornia, said Davis.

Also on Monday, the NIFC said it was mobilizing 200 active-duty soldiers from Washington to help in the firefighting efforts.

Troops from the Army’s 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Washington will train this week and are expected to be sent to a wildfire yet to be identified by Sunday.

It’s the first time since 2006 the NIFC has mobilized active-duty military personnel to serve as firefighters.


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Carlos E. Castañeda is Senior Editor, News & Social Media for CBS San Francisco and a San Francisco native. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.