Air tankers for McKinney Fire unable to be used until smoke clears

But that fight is more difficult of late because of all the smoke.

Nine air tanker runs were made on Friday for the McKinney Fire and five more were done Saturday.

They dropped retardant on the flames.

But there hasn’t been any tankers used since then.

The forest service tells me that due to the smoke and weather surrounding the fire its planes haven’t been able to help.

An inversion over the fire is keeping the smoke in, creating low visibility.

The forest service says this is not all bad for the fire as the shade from the smoke has kept the fire from spreading erratically.

Now, helicopters are being used to help fight the fire until conditions improve.

“The fixed wing aircraft, due to the nature of an airplane versus a helicopter, they can’t really work in conditions like that,” said Medford Assistant Air Tanker Manager Benjamin Crittenden. “You usually have to wait until the smoke clears out of the area.”

The forest service says they expect to use the air tankers once the visibility clears up.

But again, that’s not necessarily bad news because the high humidity and potential rainfall today could keep the fire from spreading quickly.

Once air tankers are able to go back, both Medford and Redding will supply the tankers and drop more retardant.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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