Air Tankers Take Off to Fight Fires

, Posted: Fri, July 26 2013 at 4:31 PM, Updated: Fri, July 26 2013 at 5:32 PM

Fire season brings clouds of red and buckets of water to the skies of Southern Oregon.Today, several air tankers are battling blaze after blaze in Josephine and Douglas County.   
So how does it all work?
Today we take you to the front lines of filling these flying firefighters.

So what's black, white, and red all over... this time... it's this DC7. It's reloading as it fights several fires in Josephine and Douglas County.
Here's where it all starts:  Have you ever noticed this area behind the Medford International Airport. Well, this is where air tankers fill up on retardant to fight all the fires around the area. Today we're giving you a near front row seat to all the action.    

This is the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest's Medford Air Tanker Base. Here 2 DC7's are used regularly. There's a 3rd for backup... today all three are getting loaded up.

Liquid coolant is pumped into the plane through a long hose.
It's much like filling up your car at the gas station... except of course this vehicle's much bigger and takes 3000 gallons. It's pricier too. Each load costs 16 to 20 thousand dollars.

But... the whole process only takes 5-7 minutes. During which time the plane gets a once over, and the windows get buffed up.

Then, it's back to the skies once more... fighting fires where they're too strong and too hard to reach on the ground.

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