New plane comes to Arizona for wildfire season
PHOENIX (KSAZ) - It's a sight to see in a time of disaster: Planes dropping slurry from above, laying down the line to hopefully stop wildfires from spreading.
The goal is to not only hold the blaze back, but to keep those flames from reaching homes, like this one, destroyed in Kearny last year.
"Our hope always is to catch things very quickly and this is one of the tools to help us do that," said Air Tanker Base manager Matt Huse.
Huse is the Air Tanker Base manager at Mesa Gateway Airport and this is just the latest in the fleet, the Avro RJ 85.
It came here about a month ago after trips to Minnesota, Oregon and even Australia.
But this, is the first time it's seen Arizona and Matt says it's equipped with next- generation technology.
"It's more efficient for the guys on the ground and we're able to deliver a time-and-a-half more than what they're used to seeing," Huse said.
Faster and able to hold 3,000 gallons of liquid flame retardant. That's 27,000 pounds for the firefighters on the ground.
It's here in preparation for the worst during the hottest, driest months of the year and there are similar planes ready at Fort Huachuca and multiple helicopters placed strategically around the state.
But the Forest Service shares tankers like the Avro RJ 85, so while this new plane is ready to go now, it may be going to another blaze in another state.
"This could be gone tomorrow," Huse said. "Where the need arises for this aircraft, we'll load it out and get it to the guys on the ground."
Although the new plane hasn't had to drop any slurry like this yet, the hope is that it won't have to at all for a quiet summer wildfire season.