Two massive "Super Scooper" firefighting aircraft have arrived in Los Angeles County Wednesday on loan from Quebec, Canada.
The partnership between L.A. County and Canada is now in its 25th year.
The two Bombardier CL-415 airplanes are on loan, along with a large, specialized Erickson Air-Crane helicopter, also known as a "Helitank."
L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said during a press conference in Van Nuys that the aircraft are a major help to Southland firefighters. They join the L.A. County Fire Department's existing fleet of firefighting helicopters.
"This impressive aerial firefighter will bring the extra muscle we need to fight fires," she said.
The Super Scoopers are, "the only aircraft made exclusively to fight forest fires," said Quebec Delegate Elizabeth McKay.
They're capable of dropping 1,600 gallons of water in a single maneuver, she said.
They can fly through strong winds to reach areas other aircraft could not, McKay added.
"In doing so, they provide critical and necessary aid to firefighters on the ground," she said.
While officials hope the Super Scoopers won't be needed, now is a precarious time for firefighters in Southern California.
Santa Ana winds can quickly whip small fires into big ones, Barger said.
"Wildfires have decimated parts of California this year, and fire season is just beginning," she said. "But frankly, with high temperatures and gusty winds, the fire season isn’t restricted to a few months anymore."
California is threatened by wildfires year-round, officials said.
Recent history shows the potential for massive fires, L.A. County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby said.
"Last year we had the largest fire in the history of California, the Thomas fire, exceeded this year by a fire in Mendocino County that burned over 450,000 acres," the chief said.
Following another hot, dry summer, and five years of drought, Osby said firefighters are being positioned in strategic points throughout the county to help extinguish fires before they become large.
In addition to simply lending equipment, McKay said the partnership between L.A. County and Quebec allows firefighters in both countries to learn from one another.
"It's an example of how Canada and the United States, as neighbors, work together and lean on one another in times of crises," she said.