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S.D. Supervisors Agree to Spend $3 Million to Lease Firefighting Air Tankers

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Aired 4/19/09

San Diego County Supervisors have voted to spend $3 million to lease two air tankers and one air command plane to help fight wildfires this fall. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

The Supervisors agreed the lease is a one time expenditure. It's not even clear yet who will coordinate the planes when they arrive in September. But Supervisor Ron Roberts says the decision needed to be made fast, before the super scoopers are booked by other agencies.

The planes, known as CL 415s, carry over four times more water than the region's fire fighting helicopters.

Roberts: They can pick up over 16 hundred gallons of water from lakes in 12 seconds without stopping, in one hour a single CL 415 can drop over 14,000 gallons of fire and retardant operating within eight miles of a water source.

The Supervisors remain concerned about Cal Fire's rules which don't allow arial fire fighting in unincorporated areas after dark. 

Alison St John, KPBS News.

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