CalFire’s air tankers
The Press-Enterprise has an interesting article about the current fleet of CalFire air tankers. Here are some excerpts:
In deciding which planes to assign to a particular fire, the variables include each plane’s payload and the round-trip time between the fire and its reloading base.
The results can be surprising: The slow but very large 7,200-gallon World War II (Martin Mars) seaplane operating from Lake Shasta, for example, surpassed the entire fleet of faster but smaller 3,000-gallon military C-130s shuttling between fires and more distant airfields on one very busy shift.
“Eight (C-130s) dropped 75,000 gallons in one day. I think that was their record,” Hulbert said. “And the Martin Mars (seaplane) … dropped 110,000 gallons. It tells you that, if it’s in close proximity to a lake, it’s a very effective tool.”
This year, the Forest Service has agreed for the first time to reimburse Cal Fire for DC-10 costs incurred when the supertanker is dispatched to battle fires on federal land.
California no longer can count on the availability of the U.S. Forest Service’s large tankers, whose numbers have dwindled from 33 in early 2004 to 19 this year, because of safety concerns, said Cal Fire Aviation Chief Mike Padilla.
This year, Cal Fire has exclusive access to the big jet and a four-engine DC-7. The agency has a call-when-needed contract with a huge Canadian-based Martin Mars seaplane.
Cal Fire also can request any or all of nine other large Canadian tankers, four of which helped fight the lightning-sparked fires that burned across Northern California during June and July, Padilla said.
As always, Cal Fire has its own permanent fleet of 23 medium-size S-2T Trackers, speedy ex-Navy submarine hunters that have been modified to pounce on small fires.
The U.S. Forest Service still has not approved the proposed contract that Evergreen submitted several weeks ago for their 747 “Super Tanker”.
Preventing power lines from causing fires
The North County Times has an article about the power line that started the 198,000-acre Witch Creek fire east of San Diego last year, and how to prevent similar fires.
Billings air tanker base
The Jackson Hole Star Tribune has an article about the air tanker base at Billings, Montana.