A new group of firefighting aircraft based out of Revelstoke has been deployed to the Northwest Territories to help battle a blaze near Hay River.
The five plane airtanker group is new to Revelstoke and adds to the province’s existing fleet of aircraft. It consists of a Cessna Grand Caravan bird dog and four Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss amphibious airtankers.
The group augments Revelstoke’s position as a firefighter base — two 20-person unit crews, five three-person initial attack crews and 10 support staff are already based here. Five pilots, two maintenance engineers and one air attack officer are attached to the planes.
The Grand Caravan and Fire Boss’ act in tandem, with the former acting as a spotter over fires, while the latter collect water and dump it on the blaze.
The Fire Boss’ are capable of picking up more than 3,000 litres of water and be back on the way to a fire in less than 30 seconds. They can carry water, foam and fire retardant, depending on the situation. Foam slows the evaporation of the water, while the retardant suffocates the fire and slows its spread.
The aircraft are designed to assist ground crews in extinguishing a blaze.
The Revelstoke group flew its first mission on June 9, when it dropped 222,361 litres of water in 75 minutes on a fire near Schroeder Creek north of Kaslo.
It was recently stationed in Campbell River before being deployed to the Northwest Territories.
The aircraft are operated by contractor Conair Group.