Saturday, July 22, 2017

Canadian aircraft help battle Montana wildfires


Four super scoopers on lease from Canada are now in Montana and ready to help battle wildfires. The planes arrived a week ago and have already been deployed to the Lewistown fire burning in eastern Montana.

The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation is hosting two Canadian CL-215 water scooping planes stationed in Kalispell as well as two based out of Lewistown.

"For our area here in northwest Montana, this is an extremely beneficial tool to have in our toolbox. It's capable of delivering thousands of gallons of water in a very short period of time," said Wyatt Frampton with the DNRC Northwest Land Office.

The scoopers plane skims water off a water body and is capable of filling its two 600-gallon tanks in just 10-seconds. Both tanks can be released  simultaneously or one at a time -- making it an extremely valuable resource in initial attacks.

"A lot of times when we get into the very high and extreme fire danger additional tools are required to effectively suppress fires and keep them small and so the super scoopers help us greatly with that it terms of delivering a large amount of water to give ground crews time to get in and contain the fire," Frampton said.

The scoopers will be available as needed to any fire management organization in the state but they're most effective working on fires that are within 25 miles of a water resource.

If you do see the scoopers near the water, be sure to move your boat to the shore while their battling the wildfire and also remember that drones will shut down aviation resources so make sure to keep them far away.

The scoopers are on loan from the Saskatchewan and are available through the Northwest Compact Agreement which the state of Montana is part of -- as are several other states and provinces.

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