US Forest Service deactivates the last two MAFFS air tankers
The US Forest Service has released from fire duty the last two Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped military C-130s. At one time this summer all eight were active, which was the first time since 2008 eight C-130s had been activated simultaneously.
According to 153rd Air Expeditionary Group officials based in Boise, Idaho, this season has become the second-highest in MAFFS history for gallons of fire retardant dropped, surpassed only by the MAFFS season of 1994 when about 5 million gallons were dropped. This season, through Sept. 14, the MAFFS fleet released almost 2.5 million gallons of fire retardant during 1,011 drops on fires in 10 states.
Awards presented for actions following the crash of MAFFS air tanker
One of the MAFFS C-130s mentioned above, MAFFS 7, crashed on July 1 while working on the White Draw Fire west of Hot Springs, South Dakota, killing four people and injuring two. Recently awards were presented to at least three helitack crew members honoring them for their efforts in the rescue and recovery of the crew members of the C-130. Awards were given to Firefighters Daniel Diaz, Kevin Walters, and pilot Chuck MacFarland from the San Bernardino National Forest. There may also have been awards given to other firefighters that were involved in the incident.
Helicopter 535 from Keenwild Station on the San Bernardino National Forest and a helicopter from Wasatch, which were both assigned to the White Draw Fire, responded to the crash and effected the rescue of the two surviving crew members and initiated the search for the deceased. Media reports at the time said the two survivors were picked up by helicopter from the crash site and flown to the Custer airport approximately 25 miles north of the fire. From there one was flown by a life flight helicopter to a hospital in Rapid City and the other went by ground ambulance to the hospital.
Below is a photo that we shot on June 29 of Helicopter 535 dropping on the White Draw Fire two days before the crash of MAFFS 7.
Canadian firefighters helping out in United States
More than 100 firefighers from Canada will be helping to suppress wildfires in the state of Washington. They were expected to arrive on Monday, September 17 to assist the 3,500 firefighters currently working on fires in Washington and Oregon.
Report examines residential wildfire risk in 13 states
The CoreLogic company has released an interesting report that analyzes the residential wildfire risk in 13 states. One fact they point out is that living within a city boundary does not prevent a wildfire from reaching a home, since all it takes is one burning ember that could be transported for thousands of feet before it lands in a gutter full of leaves at an otherwise well-maintained home.
The graphic below from the report was news to me… that in the previous five decades there has been such a significant increase in homes destroyed in wildfires.
USFS Deputy Chief says they do not have enough firefighting resources
In spite of the annual spring press releases that claim there will plenty of firefighting resources for upcoming season, Jim Hubbard, the US Forest Service Deputy Chief, is quoted in an article in the San Francisco Examiner as saying the agency does not have enough resources to cover long-duration wildfires. This was the reason given for their policy this summer of full suppression of all fires, rather than letting some fires burn through remote areas for weeks or months with only minimum intervention by firefighters.
Air tanker videos from Canada
Josh sent us these videos of air tankers in action in Canada, saying:
The aircraft models in both videos were a mix of the L188 Electra (the quad) and a couple of AT802’s (SEAT). The yellow Electra is Airspray of Edmonton AB (they have 3 on exclusive use with the BCFS), the rest are Conair’s (Abbotsford BC). They also provide several CV580’s (not in these videos) along with one Electra and a group of 802’s.
Thanks go out to Ken, Kelly, and Dick