» Aerial Fire fighters in action in Laggala

Aerial Fire fighters in action in Laggala

Aug 29 2011


Two Bell 212 helicopters from No. 7 Squadron stationed at SLAF Base at Hingurakgoda were deployed this afternoon (01st August 2011) around 3pm to assist in retarding the spread of a major forest fire which erupted in the Laggala forest area close to Wilgamuwa in the Matale District.

Using water from an adjacent tank, the helicopter crew of the first Bell 212 battled the fire with the aid of its underslung ‘Bambi bucket’ flying 6 consecutive shuttles and limited the spread of the raging flames.
On a request made by the Disaster Management Center, SLAF pilots Squadron Leader Chamila Hiripitiya and Flight Lieutenant Dumidu Marasinghe deployed to the area. The fire had spread very quickly at the base of the mountain range which made the operation of fighting the fire a tricky business as it was difficult to maneuver the helicopter along the mountain slope. However this fire had to be curtailed, as, had it reached the nearby ‘Nagolla’ town the consequences would have been disastrous.  The pilots had to fly 7 km from the scene of the fire to obtain water from a tank which was itself an arduous task as the water levels in the tank were also depleting. 

As at 5pm this evening, one Bell 212 had returned and a second helicopter had been dispatched to continue the battle. The second mission was carried out by Squadron Leader Banuka Delgahagoda and Flying Officer Thilina Gardiarachchi.

Aug 29 2011