For Our Wildfire Filled Future
Coulson Next Gen Air Tanker 131
Last November the Coulson T-131 C-130 Hercules was in Victoria, Australia.
Saturday I took a picture of the T-131 flying over my apartment in Redding, California.
Air tankers can be contracted by various fire services to augment their fleets during fire seasons. The T-131 is back here now in the northern hemisphere during our summer.
T-131 over the Treehouse
Later on Saturday, around 5:00, I was near Northpoint drive taking pictures of Mount Shasta. Looking to the west, I noticed a plume of smoke rising in the distance.
Smoke in the distance
It didn’t look very big from my vantage point. I went home and looked at my pictures on the computer screen and realized it was much larger than I thought. What appeared to be a bird in my camera viewfinder was actually a helicopter.
Helicopter on the scene of the Keswick fire
I had the air conditioner going, keeping my apartment at a cool 80 degrees. That covers most outdoor sounds with its own mechanical symphony.
The sound of jet engines overhead was loud and close enough to get me outside with a camera to see what was happening. I looked up and saw one of the new Neptune jet tankers. They are based in Medford, Oregon. (About 10 - 15 minutes away as the jet flies)
T-41 Neptune tanker
With the help of the T-41, the firefighters had the 20 acre fire contained in a short time.
According to reports, the fire likely started at the unsupervised Keswick shooting range.
On the way to the Keswick fire
In case you are wondering what that red stuff is that they are dropping, I looked it up on Wikipedia;
Borate salts used in the past to fight wildfires have been found to sterilize the soil and be toxic to animals so are now prohibited. Newer retardants use ammonium sulfate or ammonium polyphosphate with attapulgite clay thickener or diammonium phosphate with a guar gum derivative thickener.
These are not only less toxic but act as fertilizers to help the regrowth of plants after the fire. Fire retardants often contain wetting agents, preservatives and rust inhibitors and are colored red with ferric oxide or fugitive color to mark where they have been dropped. Brand names of fire retardants for aerial application include Fire-Trol and Phos-Chek.
Some water-dropping aircraft carry tanks of a guar gum derivative to thicken the water and reduce runoff.
Mount Shasta from Northpoint Drive
I knew there was a reason I don’t buy ice cream that contains guar gum besides not wanting non digestible glue in my digestive system; The firefighting air tankers need it for their retardant solutions. (The only ice cream I have found without some kind of gum in it is Haagen Daz vanilla)