Firefighting Aircraft Feared to Be Increasingly Ineffective Amid Worsening California Wildfires

A Cal Fire S-2 air tanker disgorges a retardant slurry in 2014. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A Cal Fire S-2 air tanker disgorges a retardant slurry in 2014. (Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The flames erupted just after sunrise on a high canyon wall, far beyond the reach of earthbound firefighters.

As powerful winds sent embers rocketing through the Sierra Nevada foothills, and closer to the towns of Magalia, Concow and Paradise, fire crews radioed anxiously for aircraft.

“Any news on air attack?” demanded one commander. “Let’s get stuff up that we can get up.”

But it would take nearly two hours for the first water-dropping helicopter to arrive, and roughly six hours for the first air tankers to drop retardant on the fire, because of dangerously strong winds.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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