By Jason KUROSU
With increasing temperatures and lack of rainfall, fire season is looming over Southern California. The Los Angeles County Fire Dept. regularly leases extra firefighting aircraft each fire season, adding resources to the department during the driest part of the year.
The fire department showcased the planes, along with the S-70 helicopter utilized throughout the year, at a press conference on Monday at the Van Nuys Airport. In attendance were Supervisor Michael D. Anotnovich, L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby and the Quebec Government’s delegate in Los Angeles, Alain Houde. L.A. County Fire has been contracting for two Canadian CL-415 “Super-Scoopers” from Quebec for the past 18 years. The Erickson Air-Crane “Helitanker” firefighting aircraft has been used since 2007.
“When the Santa Ana winds begin to blow across the region, wildfires can become deadly as we have seen in previous extreme fire seasons,” said Antonovich. “The Super Scoopers and the Helitanker provide a ‘one-two punch’ in addition to County Fire’s own aerial fleet – powerful tools to protect life and property.”
The aircraft, which are contracted for 90 days, can hold enormous quantities of water with the Helitanker capable of carrying 2,500 gallons at a time. The Super Scoopers, as their name would suggest, can gather up water by scooping it out of lakes and other bodies of water. The scooping reportedly can be completed in as little as 12 seconds, giving the planes as much time as possible in the air before needing to refuel.
“They’re huge resources,” said Stephanie English, L.A. County Fire Community Services liaison. “They’re a boon during the fire season.”