Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fun and Games With Tanker 73

I hadn't had the camera out of it's bag for a few days, I was trying to get caught up with editing/storing/disseminating a bajillion images that had sat neglected for a month or so.  My computer's hard drive was nearly full, so I was forced into getting busy and clearing stuff out.

I was getting close to being done and I heard a report of a brush fire not too far away. It sounded good so I headed out there. The fire ended up being just outside of our jurisdiction, not too far from where I used to work. It was in a fairly accessible area, but as we weren't really involved I really didn't have the access that getting good ground shots would have required.

So, I set up across the highway and got ready for the air show that I knew would be coming. I wasn't disappointed, Cal-Fire sent three tankers and a helicopter. They saved the ground crews a lot of work and made some nearby residents feel a whole lot better about things.

First Pass:
Click on the image to enlarge

He kind of caught me by surprise, I was expecting a pass closer to the head of the fire, not the heel. I was hoping to change lenses before he started this pass, but didn't have time, so the 24-70 was going to have to do. This was the best of the four shots that I got of the pass, cropped a little to remove the traffic jam on the highway and to bring the plane in a little closer.

Second Pass:

I believe they were trying to work a finger that was down in a draw and keep the fire from coming out and causing problems on the right flank. I had changed lenses by then and was able to pull this in a little better. I usually don't like head-on shots, but this one is off just enough to keep me happy. This is the fourth or the fifth of a seven shot sequence.

Third pass:

Still working the draw, though there didn't seem to be a lot of fire activity left in it. They might have been laying a "pink line" to slow/stop the fire until crews could work there way down there and finish it off. As I couldn't see or hear what was going on down there, it is merely a guess on my part.

The fire was knocked down pretty quick, though it looked like they did some burning out to clean things up on the left flank.

As I left, I drove by four "type 1" engines from my agency, staged at the border. As it was a "type 3" engine show, I doubt they were used. I drove home and had a beer, just because I could.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Okay Cap, another chance to educate one of your non-fire service readers.

    A Type 1 Engine would be the "normal" triple combination I see every day here in town running everything from car wrecks and medical calls to structure fires right? Lots of hose, a bit of water onboard, 1000 GPM capacity pump, and a couple of ground ladders?

    A Type 3 I'm guessing is aimed more at rural/wildland work? Higher ground clearance, more hose and pump capacity, and rakes and picks and such?


  2. Nice pictures. Hope you enjoyed the beer.


  3. Those are great shots! Thanks for the post.

  4. Schmoe,

    What sort of aircraft are those tankers?

    YYC Dispatcher

  5. BG - You are right on the money. It mainly has to do with pump, water tank and hose capacity. Without getting into too much detail, the specs take into account that water supply will be an issue and greater pressures may be required on wildland fires. Type 3s may also be four wheel drive, which comes in handy.

    YYC - Those are Grumman S-2Ts, which were U.S. Navy carrier borne anti-submarine aircraft. Cal-fire bought a bunch of them a long time ago, the have worked out well. Originally powered by radial engines, they were converted to turbo-props many years ago and now are even more bad-ass. We see them all of the time.

    Hydrant Girl and Mad Jack thanks, I'm glad that you like them.

    Thanks all for the comments.