Three DC-10 air tankers help firefighters slow growth of Goodwin Fire in Arizona

Goodwin Fire, June 27, 2017

Above: Goodwin Fire, June 27, 2017. Photo by Christina Montiel, U.S. Forest Service.

(Originally published at 10:50 a.m. MDT June 29, 2017)

Firefighters were successful Wednesday in halting the spread of the Goodwin Fire near Mayer, Arizona. There was very little movement of the fire yesterday except for the southwest corner and the north side.

The southwest side spread about a quarter mile to the south, while the north side was very active, moving in some areas about 1.5 miles north along 5 miles of fire perimeter.

The growth added about 4,100 acres to the fire, bringing the total size to 24,828 acres.

map Goodwin fire
Map of the Goodwin Fire. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 4:17 a.m. MDT June 29. The Red line was the perimeter at 11 p.m. MDT June 28, while the white line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. MDT June 28, 2017.

Over 150 firefighters worked Tuesday night creating dozer lines between the fire and Mayer. Those lines were burned out Wednesday which prevented any significant growth toward the town. Firefighters were able to contain the 500 acres that burned east of Highway 69 between Poland Junction and Mayer. Wednesday morning the fire spread into a basin toward Poland Junction, but winds were lighter and the relative humidity did not drop to the low levels that contributed to Tuesday’s expansion.

Evacuations are still in place for several communities and Highway 69 is closed. There has been no change in the number of structures reportedly destroyed — it remains at nine, and it is unknown if they are residences or outbuildings.

Three very large air tankers, DC-10’s that carry 11,600 gallons of fire retardant, assisted firefighters on the ground Wednesday, reducing the fire’s intensity around endangered structures. The DC-10’s are often used on wildfires, but there are only three of the “Very Large Air Tankers” on contract with the federal government, and it is unusual for all of them to be working the same fire. They were reloading with retardant at Phoenix Mesa-Gateway airport 80 miles southeast of the fire.

Rick Hatton, President and CEO of 10 Tanker Air Carrier, said their three DC-10’s completed a total of 14 sorties to the Goodwin Fire during 16 total hours of flying Wednesday. He said the facilities and crews at the air tanker base accommodated the three huge aircraft very well.

Two of the aircraft are on exclusive use contracts with the U.S. Forest Service, and a third is on a call when needed contract.

Even though $2.4 million was spent in 2014 to improve the apron and plumbing at the air tanker base at Prescott, 15 miles from the fire, it was not designed to handle Very Large Air Tankers. But it can handle the “large” or “heavy” air tankers, such as the 2,000 to 3,500 gallon P2V, BAe-146, RJ85, MD-87, 737, and C-130.

And, as you can see below, Prescott makes a good temporary home for the helicopters working the Goodwin Fire.

An illegally operated drone flew into the fire area Wednesday, forcing all firefighting aircraft to be grounded for safety reasons. Law enforcement responded and is investigating the incident. Hobbyist drone operators are reminded that “if you fly, we can’t fly.” There is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over the fire area and it is against federal law to fly a drone within the restricted area.

In the video below you will see what appears to be a privately owned Blackhawk helicopter, a Firehawk, dropping retardant. Most of the time helicopters drop water directly on the flames, but the long term retardant can be effective when applied ahead of the fire.

Another helicopter dropping retardant:

Author: Bill Gabbert

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

2 thoughts on “Three DC-10 air tankers help firefighters slow growth of Goodwin Fire in Arizona”

  1. It’s time to update information on Goodwin fire. You still have info up from Tuesday and wednesday.
    Today is Friday. How about posting more pertinent information from today.

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