Soldiers and volunteers help fight fire in Kenya

Lori Helicopter dipping
Lori Helicopter dipping
Caption from the Lori Helicopters' Facebook page: "How about that!! Dipping your water bucket into a pool, at the base of a narrow necked, 40ft gorge, in a 25 knot crosswind and all at altitude. Wow, that's certainly some incredibly controlled flying... you go Shawn!— at Mt Kenya Forest. (photo used with permission. Credit: Teeku Patel / "

Updated at 9:22 a.m. March 21, 2012

Soldiers from the Kenyan and British armies along with 500 local residents and volunteers are helping to slow the spread of a large wildfire burning in Kenya on Mt. Kenya. They are assisting the Kenya Forest Service and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) on the fire that is burning indigenous and bamboo forest and moorland.

An article at said helicopters from the KWS and the British Army have been joined by a “volunteer” helicopter from Lady Lori, a company that provides helicopter services out of Nairobi, Kenya. We contacted the company and learned that initially they did volunteer the use of the helicopter, but now they are “on the clock”. Lady Lori’s Facebook page has some additional photos of the Eurocopter AS350 B3 which has been working on the fire for five days.

Lori Helicopter dropping fire Kenya
Photo used with permission. Credit: Teeku Patel /

Here are some excerpts from a blog on the Lady Lori web site, dated March 20, which also has copies of the photos:


Yesterday afternoon Shawn Evans, our Canadian Long-lining specialist, his Lady Lori AS350B3 and the heroic ground team were battling to save a school that was being threatened to be engulfed by flames.

It concerns one of the largest forest fires in Kenya’s history and the first time a Kenyan fire has been fought by air. The photo’s describe how Lady Lori’s people are trying hard to get the fires under control:

1. As darkness fell it appeared that we might have succeeded, however moments later the wind picked up and once more the fire took hold of the tinder dry trees. We’re all just praying that the school was somehow spared and we’ll find it still in tact this morning.

2. Shawn and his Lady Lori Eurocopter are operating at between 6,000 and 13,000ft, right on the outer limits of man and machines capabilities.

3. How about that!! Dipping your water bucket into a pool, at the base of a narrow necked, 40ft gorge, in a 25 knot crosswind and all at altitude.Wow, that’s certainly some incredibly controlled flying… You go Shawn!

4. It’s now the fifth day since we took-off from Wilson in response to the Chief Park Warden, Simon Gitau’s, request for assistance with the herculean efforts up on Mount Kenya. Simon Gitau is heading up the efforts in an attempt to seize back control from the forest fires. It’s all very much touch and go at the moment, however he did receive the incredibly welcome addition of 30 British soldiers, who have been dispatched to camp out on the mountain and assist the KWS and Police personal already there fighting the fires.

5. Much more is needed though and whilst Lady Lori are certainly proving their worth, helicopters can only assist in reducing fires to a manageable size, it’s the people on the ground that actually put fires out. Here’s hoping for less wind, some heaven sent rain and a few more additional firefighters on the ground.

Written by Ian Mimano on 20.03.12

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.