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Charlotte Airmen In NM Fighting Fire On 4th

Twenty-five members of a Charlotte-based North Carolina Air National Guard unit are in New Mexico this 4th of July helping fight a wildfire that has already burned more than 120,000 acres. The NCNG 145th Airlift Wing was called to New Mexico by the Forest Service two weeks ago where it has carried out multiple missions each day to drop fire retardant on the flames from specially-equipped planes. 1st Lieutenant Michael Wilber says such deployments are popular with the Charlotte crew. "This is an awesome mission because of the fact you're directly affecting the lives of your fellow United States citizens," says Wilber. "You can see the people who you are helping downtown when you go out to eat. You can talk to people and hear their stories and it just makes you feel really good to be a part of that." Wilber says many of Charlotte unit's airmen and women are also likely to face deployment overseas later this year. The Forest Services says the Las Conchas fire in northern New Mexico is just 19 percent contained and continues to threaten homes and businesses. Charlotte's 145th Airlift Wing is one of only four Air National Guard units in the country with planes equipped to fight fires.