New next-gen air tanker is helping ODF fight fires in the state and beyond

MEDFORD, Ore. — A next-generation air tanker is helping the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest District fight fires.

The MD87 Next-Generation Air Tanker is on contract and temporarily calling Medford home.

ODF spokesperson, Natalie Weber, says the plane can carry up to 3,000 gallons of retardant. It’s also very fast, hitting up to 345 miles per hour at 18,000 feet in the air.

“While it’s based here in Medford, it’s actually available to go anywhere in the state or beyond where it’s needed. It’s a really valuable resource to us especially due to the terrain that we have in these areas,” said Weber.

She says the large air tanker is currently off in Washington state fighting a fire.

Weber says the LAT has already been out to 5 different fires – including the Jack Fire and Bootleg Fire – since it arrived in town last week.

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