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Forest Service to send more fire-fighting airpower to Arizona

PHOENIX — The Forest Service is sending a DC-10 firefighting air tanker to Arizona on Tuesday in preparation for fire season.

The converted passenger airliner that used to carry almost 400 passengers now carries more than 10,000 gallons of fire suppressant and is able to lay down a mile-long line around fires. It will be based at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

The tanker is based in Victorville, Calif.

“For a large aircraft it’s nimble. It’s another good tool for us,” said Clay Templin with the Tonto National Forest. Aside from the tanker, more manpower will be brought in to fight fires.

“We’re bringing in additional hotshot crews and engines from Idaho and Montana. We have a ready reserve that can respond to an emerging incident,” Templin said.

The jumbo jet played an important role in saving the town of Greer from the 2011 Wallow Fire and has been used on the Powerhouse Fire in Southern California in the past few days. It will also see action on two fires burning in New Mexico.

Several smaller air attack planes are already based at Gateway.

“We’re positioning air assets where they can quickly respond to new fires and we have the facilities in Mesa,” Templin said.


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