As fire fighters sweat it out on the ground,
cutting lines and creating fire breaks, planes and helicopters work
from the air to contain the wild land blazes. As the fires near June
Lake ramped up yesterday afternoon, the flying tankers took to the air
to deliver fire retardant around the growing flames.
Helicopter pilots refilled their long-line buckets in June Lake for a
fast turn around on the fire, while six fixed winged tankers cycled
loads of retardant out of Fresno and the Bishop Airport. At Bishop
Airport, ground crews were ready with mixed fire retardant to re-fill
the planes for their trips to the June Fire.
According to fire prevention specialist Mary Loan, four of the planes
working this fire were what they call S-2's. These twin engine aircraft
operated by the California Department of Forestry can drop 1200 gallons
of retardant on a fire. Nothing ever goes perfectly. One of the twin
engine tankers had engine trouble at the Bishop Airport blocking out
the other 3 S-2's and forcing them to fly to Fresno to reload.
There were also two single engine air tankers, or SEAT planes flying
laps between Bishop and the June Lake Fire. These planes are
essentially converted crop dusters that can drop 800 gallons of
retardant on a fire per trip, but can reload in less time for a fast
turn around. The SEAT planes were making the round trip and drop in
about 45 minutes.
All in all, fire prevention specialist Mary Loan says that they had a good aerial attack on this fire.