Forest Service Adds Eight Aircraft to Firefighting Fleet

By Beacon Staff

The U.S. Forest Service is adding eight more aircraft to its firefighting fleet to ensure an adequate number of airtankers are available for wildland suppression efforts, the agency announced Monday.

With the new aircraft, the Forest Service will have 16 large airtankers and one very large airtanker immediately available.

“In addition to contracting for more permanent airtankers into our fleet, we’re implementing our plan to bring additional aircraft into operation now,” USFS Chief Tom Tidwell said. “These additional resources will enable us to meet our responsibility to respond vigorously to wildfires threatening lives, communities, and cultural and natural resources.”

The Forest Service also plans to have five heavy helicopters become available earlier than scheduled.

An air tanker crashed earlier this month near the Utah-Nevada border as it dropped retardant on a 5,000-acre wildfire, killing the two men on board. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

There are roughly 4,000 personnel, 62 helicopters and 10 airtankers currently committed to suppression efforts on over 100 fires across the West.