Residents cheer below as aircraft return from battling the SQF Complex fire


PORTERVILLE, California (KGPE) – The SQF Complex fire has burned more than 140,000 acres and was 33% contained Tuesday night. During the day, aircrafts made continuous rounds over the fire, dropping water and fire retardant.

Dozens of people parked outside the Porterville Air Attack Base to watch the aircrafts land. Some pilots took notice of the group and sounded off sirens in return to the cheers.

“Oh yeah, this is excitement for Porterville,” said longtime resident Don Mortensen.

Over the past few weeks, from sun up to sundown, Cal Fire says 20 different air tankers and 30 helicopters have dropped more than 1.2 million gallons of retardant. Cal Fire Air Operations Branch Director Burke Kremensky says their job is crucial to the fire attack, especially since the fire is burning in challenging terrain.

“This fire is in a really remote and rigged area so utilizing the helicopters and air tankers really helps out with the limited grounds resources assigned to the fire,” said Chief Kremensky.

Due to the historic wildfire season, he says the resources assigned to the SQF Complex fire are a quarter of what they should be.

“I know every year is the worst fire season, but this is truly the worst fire season since 1988 since I’ve been doing it, this is the worst fire season on record,” said Kremensky.

“It’s easy to know people who have had great losses and the community, everybody in the valley seems to be pulling together trying to help,” said Don Wheeler as he, his grandson, and great-grandaughters all watched the planes land.

Many who parked by the base brought signs and cheered for the fire crews as they returned from the frontlines, showing their appreciation for their continued hard work.

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