Fighting the Badger Fire from above

Different aircraft and helicopters utilized
Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 5:27 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - One of the tools they are using to fight the Badger Fire is airplanes.

The airplanes fly over the fire to drop retardant on the flames.

“It’s a crew of two that fly the aircraft,” said Justin Hawkins, a first officer with Neptune Aviation. “It’s a large air tanker as you can see it carries three thousand gallons of retardant to the fire.”

The Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the Magic Valley Regional Airport work together to coordinate filling up and loading of the different airplanes.

“It’s a pretty complex environment, but the gist is that we load the retardant at the tanker base, take off from the nearest tanker base from the fire, sometimes it takes a few minutes to build a strategy get set up and drop the retardant, and then back and forth all day,” said Hawkins.

The Badger Fire is using small engine air tankers, large air tankers as well as helicopters to help fight the fire.

“It’s very busy, I think two days ago we pumped 115,000 gallons of retardant in a day, which is our second highest day in base history, so it’s extremely busy,” said the air tanker base manager Jasper.

Previously Justin Hawkins was in Southern California and before that in Boise fighting wildfires.

Every fire he is sent to will be different depending on the location and the conditions of the fire.

“The lead plane and the air attack plane are at the fire developing a strategy, there is a lot of moving parts there is helicopters there now and single engine air tankers there now, so as soon as they need us we will be off the ground in a few minutes and to the fire in a few minutes after that so it’s a pretty quick response,” said Hawkins.

Bill Carberry, the airport manager says this is a normal part of the airport’s daily operations and does not affect any of the other flights.

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