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Inside look at Cal Fire Air Tankers

Cal Fire’s Air Tankers are one of their most effective weapons in the never ending war against wild land fires.
On a mild June day in Porterville, Cal Fire pilots spin their props and check their planes, knowing all the while they have to be ready at a moments notice.

"In almost all state responsibility areas we can have firefighting aircraft to the scene of an incident within twenty minutes," said Captain Gratian Bidart with Cal Fire.

A rapid response is the primary goal of Bidart and his air attack crew based in Porterville. Two tankers and a spotting aircraft sit at the ready 24 hours a day, waiting for the call they know is coming.

"It's been slow the past couple days but we can have four, five, six fires a day," said Bidart.

And for the pilots in the air that means long hours spent dropping thousands of gallons of fire retardant on fires across the central valley.

“This is our job and it's a rewarding job, we know that we have a lot of long days and long hours ahead of us when these fires break and we are out trying to suppress them," said Bidart.
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Fresno, CA

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