The 747 air tanker made two free drops on the Railbelt complex in Alaska on Friday. Evergreen, who built and operates the “Supertanker”, made the drops at no cost to Fairbanks Area Forestry in an effort to demonstrate the capabilities of the aircraft. They made two drops, dispensing a total of 20,000 gallons of retardant.
This was the first time the aircraft has dropped on a live fire in North America. Last week they made a similar demonstration drop on a fire in Spain, which was the first time they had dropped on an actual fire.
In spite of the 747 drops, the Railbelt complex grew by 67,000 acres on Friday, for a new total of 443,447 burned acres.
Smokejumpers, hand crews, and hot shot crews are protecting 226 cabins that are threatened along the Tanana, Teklanika, Toklat and Kantishna Rivers. On Friday smokejumpers delivered an all terrain vehicle by paracargo to a crew at Totek Lake.
Smoke from fires in Alaska on Friday caused two Northwest Airlines flights scheduled to land in Fairbanks to be diverted to Anchorage.