DC-10 tanker awaits calmer winds to help fight the Slide Fire - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

DC-10 tanker awaits calmer winds to help fight the Slide Fire

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) - The winds are making the Slide Fire difficult to fight. Not only do they fuel the flames but they are preventing a firefighting tanker from heading to a fire zone.

It's sitting on the ramp, ready to go to a moments notice.

It's a Douglas DC-10 Air Tanker, and it's parked on the ramp at Mesa Gateway Airport.

The winds in Sedona are too strong for it to do its job correctly. The plane itself can fly in the winds but the winds would affect the fire retardant drops causing it to miss the target.

FOX 10 got a tour of the tanker Wednesday. It flew in from the San Diego area early Wednesday morning, and it remains on standby.

As soon as the winds die down it will travel to the Slide Fire and begin dropping retardant.

It used to be a wide-body passenger plane, now it's gutted and holds more than 12,000 gallons of fire retardant. It has become a key tool in fighting wildfires in Arizona and across the west.

"This plane is quite important like other tools because it allows us to get into areas that we cannot put our firefighters into," said a spokesperson.

"It has the capability of either dropping the entire tank or it has 3 separate tanks and they can choose to drop individually in a line separately or they can drop it all at once or 3 different sections of the fire," she said.
    
Forecasters believe the wind conditions will be good tomorrow morning and the tanker should be up in the air over the Slide Fire.
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