More than 50 residents from the Golden Hills Community Services District raised their eyes to the sky Tuesday as a Kern County Fire Department helicopter circled and repeatedly drew water from Tom Sawyer Lake, displaying a new valuable resource to help fight fires in the area.

“It’s really nice to show off this resource to the community. I want to thank the board for giving us the opportunity to rehab the Poor Well, and their leadership in making this happen,” said Susan Wells, general manager of the GHCSD.

The district hosted a fire prevention and education event at 22630 Woodford-Tehachapi Road, the site of the former clubhouse. KCFD staff and one helicopter based in Keene arrived in less than 10 minutes and showed how the lake can be used as a resource.

The department’s helicopters can pick up water from Brite Lake and dip tanks in the area, although sometimes the tanks can run low very quickly. This gives the fire department another vital resource to help protect the community. Each helicopter also helps provide emergency paramedic services, medical evacuations and hoist rescues, KCFD Capt. Brandon Asher said.

Pete Hall, pilot of the KCFD helicopter, said, “When a ground crew is not available, the helicopter is called and it’s hugely important in the initial attack of the fire.”

The rehabilitation of the Poor Well provides Tom Sawyer Lake in the Golden Hills Nature Park with 85 gallons of water per minute that isn’t counted against the district’s water adjudication, because it’s a salvage area, said Wells.

Children and their parents viewed the demonstration from a safe distance, spoke with KCFD staff and toured the helicopter. It even helped inspire firefighters in the making.

“When the water fell out of the helicopter, I thought it was really cool," 9-year-old Johnny Carey said. "I want to be a firefighter when I grow up ... and save people from burning buildings.”