San Diego power company to purchase Air-Crane and share with County

San Diego Gas and Electric, the target of criticism and law suits for starting fires, is purchasing a large Type 1 helicopter that it will share with San Diego County for suppressing them. SDG&E has ordered a new Erickson Air-Crane S64F Helitanker at a cost of $30 million, and expects it to be delivered in late August after it is built in Oregon.

The power company has reached an agreement with the County which calls for each organization to put $150,000 into an account this year that could be used for up to 40 hours of wildland firefighting.  If the ship is needed for a fire, it will be dispatched through the San Diego City Fire-Rescue Department. Last year SDG&E leased an Air-Crane, which like the new one on order, was primarily used for maintaining their power lines.

Currently the City and the County of San Diego each have two helicopters that can be used for firefighting. In addition, I believe the U.S. Forest Service has another one nearby at Ramona.

More information.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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2 thoughts on “San Diego power company to purchase Air-Crane and share with County”

  1. I just received a call from a friend in San Diego. I was wrong about the # of helos.

    H-10 and H-12 are county ASTREA ships funded through the Regional Fire Program. SDFD H-1 and SDFD H-2 are completely different.

    My bad.

  2. I may be mistaken, but it probably should be the city and county have two jointly funded helicopters, H-10 and H-12 and “not each have two helicopters”.

    If things haven’t changed, one of the local tribes is heavily involved in both the funding and the staffing for the fly crew.

    Occasionally, but rarely, the SO helicopters are sometimes bucketed and used for fires. The sheriffs helicopters go by the call sign ASTREA which stands for Aerial Support To Regional Enforcement Agencies and typically use a small bambi bucket.

    The Forest Service still staffs a type 2 helicopter out of Ramona. It’s designator is H-538. So far, they have also had a heavy airtanker in place which is a big change over previous years.

    A helitanker in San Diego is a good thing. It’ll be interesting to see, but I’m sure the feds will pick up the tab after the first 40 hours of flight time is used…. either by the FS through a resource order, or through FEMA on an FMAG.

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