COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Firefighters in California now have some serious air support after the Colorado Springs-based Global SuperTanker joined the fight Monday afternoon.
The converted Boeing 747-400 is the largest aerial firefighting aircraft in America’s arsenal and can dump more than 19,000 gallons of high-pressure fire retardant at the speed of rain over a three-mile swath of land.
"We lay down a lot longer retardant line than any other aircraft out there. And we lay down a wider retardant line," said CEO Jim Wheeler.
The tanker is helping to battle the fires raging across Northern California, which has swallowed up wineries and trailer parks and tore through both tiny rural towns and the subdivisions and strip malls of bigger cities, killing at least 10 and injuring dozens.
The retardant is red and serves as a barrier to the fire, helping to contain it. It’s a big help for the crews on the ground in Northern California.
"What we try to do is slow it down enough so that they can get in and finish off the work that they need to do," said Wheeler.
Crews have already performed more than two sorties and three drops as of Monday. The aircraft is currently flying out of McClellan Airfield near Sacramento.
Denver7 sister station from San Francisco, KGO, captured the SuperTanker in action:
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsbayarea) October 9, 2017