Air Attack From the Bishop Airport

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.

 
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