On Sunday, a Cal Fire helicopter loads with water from the “pumpkin,” mobile water reservoir, at the Pine Cove Water District site at Dutch Flats. Photo by Jerry Holldber

The Mountain Fire city had its own airport located at the historic Garner Ranch in Garner Valley. The helibase supported nearly 20 different helicopters, including 11 Type 1 birds.

Helibase leader Lindsay Alarcon preparing for Sunday morning’s helitack briefing. Photo by J.P. Crumrine
The main topic during Sunday’s briefing at the airport was the weather report because of the early morning rain and the prospect for more later that day.

The helibase even has a control tower. What appears to be a large mobile home, is a two-story control center with windows in the front and both sides.

Lindsay Alarcon of the Angeles National Forest helitack unit was the base commander during the brunt of the Mountain Fire.

As she shared that Sunday, seven Type 1 crews were being released. She told the whole contingent, “You guys have done the majority of the work. You’ve gone where we’ve asked and stirred [the fire] and it’s done what we wanted because of the air support.”

Alarcon arrived Tuesday and directed the application of thousands of gallons of water and retardant along the fire’s perimeter. “It was a complex aerial show with many tankers and copters in constant contact,” she said.

Much of the water was taken from Lake Hemet. The retardant was available at two temporary locations. One was on the east side of the Hill near Palm Springs and the other in Garner Valley adjacent to the helibase.

At right, the helibase control tower overlooking Gilman Ranch that housed support for 20 helicopters throughout the Mountain Fire assault on the Hill. Photo by J.P. Crumrine