Crews of the CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk said they took women and children out first as the flames continued to burn closer to the Mammoth Pool Reservoir in the Sierra National Forest.
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When they landed by the lake, the fire line was just 50 to 75 feet from the aircraft.
While danger surrounded them, the crews focused on getting people to safety.
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"On each (helicopter), I'd ask them, are you ready for another? And every single time, they said yes. They were 100% committed to get everyone out. I told them they had to come back the next day, and they said they were very happy to do it," a National Guard official said during a round table discussion on Monday.
Chinook crew members say the smoke was so thick, causing many to become nauseated.
The Chinook and Black Hawk pilots both described it as the most dangerous mission they had ever been on in their careers, which have spanned more than two decades.
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