Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Crews are battling dozens of wildfires around the state this week. But thanks to the recent state budget revision, Cal Fire has one less tool in its arsenal.
The budget plan included the cancellation of a contract the state had with a Supertanker, or DC-10 aircraft. The huge plane can drop 12,000 of water or retardant in as little as eight seconds. Janet Upton, who is with Cal Fire, said state no longer has exclusive use of the supertanker, but can still use it when needed:
“The Governor has authorized and given the Chief latitude to call those resources up, place them on standby, even in advance of a fire to be prepared. So, it’s not necessary that a fire be burning to trigger that,” Upton said.
She also said the canceled contract is expected to save the state about $7 million, but that depends on how often it’s needed.
The budget plan also includes a delay in Cal Fire equipment replacement. Some of the department’s aircraft have been in use since the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Fire crews are currently fighting lightning-sparked flames in the northern part of the state.