The Columbia Air Attack Base, located near Columbia State Park in the CDF Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit, was established in the late 1950s in conjunction with the US Forest Service. CDF took over the administration of the base from the Forest Service in 1966. It remained a joint operation until 1975 when the Forest Service relocated.
Columbia responds to an average of 150 calls per year. Staff at the base consists of one battalion chief, two fire captains, one fire apparatus engineer, and six firefighters. The complement of aircraft located at Columbia includes one OV-10 Bronco and two S-2T airtankers. The air attack base is co-located with the Columbia Helitack Base.
On average, the base pumps about 600,000 gallons of retardant a year. With the base’s pumps, three loading pits and equipment, Columbia has a possible peak output of 120,000 gallons of retardant each day.
The base provides initial attack for the CDF Madera-Mariposa-Merced and Amador-El Dorado Units and the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park. This area spans north to the town of Plymouth, south to the town of Mariposa, east over the Sierras and west to the
Unit’s state responsibility area (SRA) boundary: an initial attack area of approximately 3.6 million acres.