With the right tools, Los Angeles County has been able to extinguish fires more quickly and efficiently for over two decades.
For 23 years, California has leased super scoopers, which are large firefighting air crafts, from Quebec, Canada during the latter part of fire season.
“The county has a number of very effective fixed wing and rotary aerial resources that do a terrific job in a variety of terrains and conditions,” Tony Bell, Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s Communication Deputy said.
After Canada’s fire season is over, the county negotiates a time in August for the super scoopers to arrive to extinguish the late summer fires in Southern California.
The super scoopers fly at about 100 miles per hour above the surface of a body of water to scoop up as much as 1,600 gallons of water in 12 seconds, allowing the vehicle to pick up water without stopping.
Also, the county contracts for one arson helitanker which holds 2,500 gallons at a time.
“The reason super scoopers are so effective is because when they are going to shoot water, they don’t have to land,” Richard Licon, Fire Inspector for the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.
“They drop water at a quicker pace and more often.”
Using the Castaic Lake as a water source, this especially comes in handy in the Santa Clarita Valley, Licon said.
Having the scoopers at the beginning of the summer would be helpful as well, he said.
L.A. County has borrowed two of the scoopers each year since 1994 at the recommendation of former Supervisor Mike Antonovich.
“I have seen the super scooper come out over a hill out of a cloud of smoke in a big pink hale of glory,” Bell said. “They always provide a great source of relief.”
County officials have discussed buying their own super scoopers in the past, according to Bell, but the fire department believes it makes more sense to continue leasing.