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USFS Augments Slurry Fleet

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While wildfires have not yet hit Northwestern Wyoming, local dfire officials are preparing for what promises to be a very active fire year in the summer ahead. With the recent crash of a slurry bomber while fighting a fire in Nevada, the US Forest Service is taking actions to maintain its aerial firefighting capability after that accident and a series of other events significantly reduced the number of airtankers available for wildfire suppression. The Nevada crash last Sunday resulted in the deaths of the plane’s two pilots. The U.S. Forest Service currently has nine large airtankers on exclusive use contracts and has arranged for a total of four additional airtankers to become available immediately for wildfire suppression. Two are CV-580s for use nationwide, one of which is available through an agreement with the state of Alaska and the other is available through an agreement with the Canadian Interagency Fire Centre. The other two airtankers will be available in California through an agreement with the state and funded by the U.S. Forest Service. Director of Fire and Aviation Management Tom Harbour explains that airtankers plan an important arole in wildfire suppression, particularly during the early stages known as “initial attack,” by dropping retardant that reduces the intensity and rate of spread of wildfires, enabling firefighters on the ground to safely construct fire lines.

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