SANGER, California (KSEE) – CAL FIRE Fresno County obtained a Type 2 Bell 212 HP helicopter to use exclusively to help assist with fires from above and in its first two days with CAL FIRE it’s already been put to good use.
“Yesterday (Monday) we had a lot of lightning activity in the Sierras and they utilized this helicopter to go drop water on a remote single tree lightning strikes,” said Curtis Wilcox, the Fire Apparatus Engineer and helicopter manager for CAL FIRE, Fresno Kings Unit.
The chopper has a two-hour flight time capability and is equipped with a 370 gallon Fire Attack water tank capable of multiple water drops, but that’s not all.
“They could utilize us to go fly and pinpoint different smokes that are unknown or in remote locations hard to get to. We could route crews, ground troops into the fire and we could coordinate the exact location of the fires. Also, we could use it as troop shuttle.”
The helicopter is based at Cal Fire Headquarters – Fresno Kings unit in Sanger and the helicopter manager says it enables crews to get to a growing wildfire quicker.
“Our closest helicopters — state helicopters– are at Hollister and Columbia so the time frame for them to get here is probably closer to 40 minutes where with this one we could be anywhere in the Fresno Kings County within 20 minutes.”
There are eight exclusive-use helicopter contracts throughout the state. CAL FIRE Fresno County will have the helicopter for 90 days, until October 17th.