NBA legend Charles Barkley is helping the Tahoe Douglas Fire Department get the word out about a campaign to acquire two firefighting helicopters for the Lake Tahoe area of northern California, which according to the fire chief is free of permanent helicopter coverage.
From the description and the amount of money required, it appears their hope is to purchase two Sikorsky S-70i Firehawk helicopters capable of carrying up to 1,000 gallons of water and also capable of responding to medical incidents with a paramedic and fully advanced life support equipment. In order to have continuous helicopter coverage, you need at least two in a fleet to account for scheduled and unexpected maintenance.
The article below by Paula Peterson was first published on SouthTahoeNow.com.
Statlin, Nevada – Charles Barkley remembers the U.S. Century Championship in July 2007 well. He and other celebrities arrived at Lake Tahoe to play golf at the annual tournament in Edgewood Tahoe, but that year was different.
The devastating Angora Fire started from the North Upper Truckee Road on June 24, and before it happened on July 2, it had burned 3,100 acres, destroying 242 residences and 67 commercial buildings, damaging 35 other homes, and involving 2,180 firefighters.
Barclay said they couldn’t “stuck” in the famous golf across the lake and have fun while nearby residents dealt with such a disaster. He asked NBC if he could take a camera crew to the area affected by the fire.
“I came here 15 years ago and saw catastrophic damage. It broke my heart. I’ve never actually seen fire damage before,” Barclay said.
He donated $190,000 to residents’ recovery efforts over the next two years and treated firefighters and their spouses to dinner at Harrahs Tahoe.
At Edgewood Tahoe Saturday, during the 33rd Annual American Century Championships, Tahoe Fire Chief Douglas Scott Lindgren held a press conference with Barclay to highlight his agency’s Lake Tahoe rescue operation.
There’s a giant crater in the middle of the Sierra with no firefighting helicopters covered, and that’s the Lake Tahoe basin and surrounding mountains, Lindgren said. He wants to change that with a $60 million plan that would bring two helicopters, a station, and training not just in Douglas County, but to the entire Lake Tahoe Basin and surrounding Sierra.
Fundraising efforts have been underway for months, but there is a lot to be collected.
“So anything you can do to help, please help these guys get their helicopter, please, because, we can’t let anything happen to this place,” Barclay said.
“We can’t allow that to happen again,” Barclay said of the Angora fire.
For more information or to donate, visit https://tahoefire.org/helicopter.