Wildfire briefing, May 8, 2014

Train ignites multiple fires in five cities

A freight train spraying sparks along railroad tracks in southern Maine started multiple wildfires in five cities on Thursday. Firefighters responded from 20 communities to the five alarm incident to battle fires in South Portland, Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and Biddeford. The worst hit area was the Wagon Wheel RV Resort and Campground, at 3 Old Orchard Beach Road. Firefighters said 10 campers were destroyed and another six were damaged.

Veterans hired as firefighters in New Mexico

A state-funded program in New Mexico called “Returning Heroes” is putting 46 veterans to work as wildland firefighters. More information can be found at KOAT.

Rain on the fires in Oklahoma

About an inch of rain Wednesday night is helping firefighters in Oklahoma suppress and mop up the fires near Guthrie and Woodward.

Air tanker arrives early at Santa Maria

A DC-10 and other firefighting aircraft are stationed at the Santa Maria airport in California about a month earlier than normal. A spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service said the planes were brought to Santa Maria early because of recent red flag warnings for extreme fire danger in the area.

Prose in a Police Log

The Police Log published in the Georgetown Record in Massachusetts does not waste any words. An entry about a vegetation fire on April 25, for example:

9:48 p.m. Services were rendered for a brush fire on Nelson Street.

Other services “rendered” included “a utility emergency on East Main Street”, “a disabled motor vehicle on Andover Street”, and “an animal complaint on Central Street”.

It takes years of experience and training to write an official report in the style of a firefighter or police officer.


Aerial firefighting on the Black Forest Fire


Blackhawk, June 12, 2013, Photo by Air Force Capt. Darin Overstreet

The military has been supplying numerous photos and some videos of their firefighting activities on the Black Forest Fire. Helicopters from the Colorado National Guard and Fort Carson as well as C-130 MAFFS air tankers are assisting firefighters on the ground. Here are seven photos of aircraft taken on June 12 by military personnel. The DC-10 is not military, but is working under a contract with the U. S. Forest Service.

Blackhawk dipping

Blackhawk dipping, June 12, 2013, Photo by Air Force Capt. Darin Overstreet

Blackhawk, dipping up to 500 gallons

Blackhawk, dipping up to 500 gallons, June 12, 2013,, Photo by Air Force Capt. Darin Overstreet

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Video of firefighting on the Powerhouse Fire

This video by Fireground Action has some excellent footage of firefighters in action on the Powerhouse Fire in southern California, June 2, 2013. There are also several retardant drops from S2Ts and the DC-10.

Here is the description of the video from YouTube:

Published on 5 Jun 2013

Coverage from day three of the “Powerhouse” wildfire burning in northern Los Angeles County. At the time of this post the fire had burned more than 30,000 acres, destroyed 5+ structures and was 60% contained. The DC-10 tanker made three consecutive drops right in front of us. So close, in fact, that we could feel the jet wash as it passed over our heads. Turn up the volume to get the full effect! As always, I left the original audio intact with no music or sounds effects added. For still images from this incident visit www.durlingmedia.com DON”T FORGET TO “LIKE” THE VIDEO! Thanks!


DC-10 air tanker activated

Tanker 910, a DC-10,

Tanker 910, a DC-10, at Rapid City, April 23, 2013. Photo by Bill Gabbert. (click to enlarge)

One of the DC-10 Very Large Air Tankers has been activated by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, CAL FIRE. Rick Hatton, President of 10 Tanker Air Carrier, the company that operates the two DC-10 air tankers, confirmed for us today that it will come on duty tomorrow, May 4. He said most likely the one they will use will be Tanker 910, the aircraft that visited four cities last week on the way back from scheduled maintenance in Michigan.

The DC-10s always carry 11,600 gallons of retardant. The average load of the Korean War vintage P2Vs, which make up the bulk of the federal fleet, is less than 2,000 gallons.

Neither CAL FIRE nor the U.S. Forest Service have exclusive use contracts for the DC-10s, so they operate on a call-when-needed basis, which results in a slower activation, higher per day costs, and less assurance that they will be available.

The USFS call-when-needed and exclusive use contracts for Very Large and Large air tankers all expired on December 31, 2012, but some were extended for a few months. Several weeks ago the agency awarded eight new exclusive use contracts for large “legacy” air tankers, with seven of them being Korean War vintage P2Vs, but it has been 520 days since they first began an attempt to contract for large “next generation” air tankers, with no results yet.


Tanker 910 at Rapid City

Tanker 910 lands at Rapid City, April 23, 2013.

Tanker 910 lands at Rapid City

One of the DC-10′s, Tanker 910, visited Rapid City today. On the way back from scheduled maintenance in Michigan, they still have two more stops scheduled for Wednesday, April 24, before they head home to California. These times are approximate and subject to change.

  • Billings, Montana, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Missoula, Montana, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

These photos were taken by Bill Gabbert. Click on them to enlarge.

DC-10 air tanker


Tanker 910
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