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Air Force officer wants to drop bombs on wildfires in California and Colorado


A senior Air Force officer wants to drop bombs on raging wildfires in California and Colorado in the hope that shockwaves will put them out.

USAF staff officer Mike Benitez pointed to Sweden successfully employing the unorthodox strategy on its own wildfires last month.

The Scandinavian country dropped a 500lb bomb on a fire in a military munitions range on July 25 that burned for two weeks and threatened homes.

A firefighter works as the Holy Fire burns near homes on Thursday in Lake Elsinore, California

A firefighter works as the Holy Fire burns near homes on Thursday in Lake Elsinore, California

A US Air Force officer has proposed dropping bombs to put out wildfire flames. Pictured: A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop as the Holy Fire burns near homes in Lake Elsinore, California

A US Air Force officer has proposed dropping bombs to put out wildfire flames. Pictured: A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop as the Holy Fire burns near homes in Lake Elsinore, California

USAF staff officer Mike Benitez wants to drop bombs on raging wildfires in California and Colorado in the hope that shockwaves will put them out

USAF staff officer Mike Benitez wants to drop bombs on raging wildfires in California and Colorado in the hope that shockwaves will put them out

Mr Benitez wrote on his blog that the bomb ‘momentarily deprived the blaze of oxygen and successfully extinguishing it within 100 yards of the detonation point’.

He argued for the USAF to develop bombs optimized for firefighting in a detailed post drawing on international research.

‘The Air Force can put a bomb anywhere in the world within a three-foot circle, extremely close to friendly forces on the ground, all while avoiding collateral damage to buildings and infrastructure,’ he wrote.

‘The same personnel, equipment, and procedures could be easily adapted and integrated into firefighting.

The fire continues to grow amidst a heat wave and has now burned 10,236 acres while remaining just five percent contained. Pictured: Lake Elsinore on Thursday 

The fire continues to grow amidst a heat wave and has now burned 10,236 acres while remaining just five percent contained. Pictured: Lake Elsinore on Thursday 

Firefighters are battling to protect homes at the Holy Fire in Lake Elsinore, California

Firefighters are battling to protect homes at the Holy Fire in Lake Elsinore, California

Firefighter Andrew Brake was killed on Thursday in a traffic collision on his way to the Carr Fire in northern California 

A plywood structure burns during the Holy Fire in Lake Elsinore. Evacuation orders expanded to more than 20,000 residents, though some homeowners stayed behind to fend off the flames themselves

A plywood structure burns during the Holy Fire in Lake Elsinore. Evacuation orders expanded to more than 20,000 residents, though some homeowners stayed behind to fend off the flames themselves

The Carr Fire has burned more than 173,000 acres and is 47 per cent contained

The Carr Fire has burned more than 173,000 acres and is 47 per cent contained

‘An air controller embedded with firefighters could use close air support procedures to direct air strikes.

‘For the Air Force, there is everything to gain and nothing to lose. For those affected by the fires, they have nothing to gain and everything to lose.’

The weapon of choice would be 500-pound BLU-129/B low-collateral damage bombs dropped from B-1 bombers, as they have a bigger shockwave and less shrapnel.

Mr Benitez also suggested supersonic jets could fly low and close to fires and use the sonic boom to produce the same effect on the ground.

The drone images show charred forests, burnt trees, desolate neighborhoods, and barren fields near Reading, California

The drone images show charred forests, burnt trees, desolate neighborhoods, and barren fields near Reading, California

The city is surrounded by mountains to the north, east, and west and fertile farm land to the south

The city is surrounded by mountains to the north, east, and west and fertile farm land to the south

Eight people including three firefighters were killed and hundreds of homes were destroyed by the wildfires that ravaged California in recent days.

The Carr Fire has burned more than 173,000 acres and is 47 per cent contained. Cal Fire officials said it is not sure when the’ll have it fully contained.  

Firefighters across California are battling more than a dozen wildfires that have scorched more than 600,000 acres. Until the fires are fully contained, smoke now covers three quarters of the state.  

Other fires still raging in California include the fast-moving Holy Fire, which has displaced 20,000 people and is only five per cent contained.



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