For the 25th year, SuperScoopers from Quebec, Canada, have arrived in Los Angeles County to assist firefighters as fire season approaches.
“With increasingly dangerous and deadly fires in our communities, we need all the resources we can get,” said Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County 5th District supervisor, in a live video of the news conference.
The county’s fleet includes Erickson Air-Cranes, Bell 412s, Sikorsky Firehawks and the Canadair SuperScoopers. When needed, L.A. City Fire Department helicopters also partner with the department.
The SuperScoopers “will bring the extra muscles we need to fight fires,” Barger said during the news conference.
“Last year, we had the largest fire in history of the state of California, the Thomas Fire,” said County Fire Chief Daryl L. Osby, “just to be exceeded this year by a fire in Montecito County that burned over 450,000 acres.”
Due to high temperatures and gusty winds, fire season is not restricted to a few months anymore, Barger said.
When the fire season is less active in Quebec, the SuperScoopers arrive in Los Angeles County.
“Since 1994, over 150 men and women have taken part in this program,” said Elizabeth MacKay, delegate for the government of Quebec. This program gives the departments the opportunity to learn from each other when fighting fires in various terrains, said MacKay.
The SuperScoopers are operated by two pilots, can hold a maximum of 1,600 gallons of water and normally drop from an altitude of 150 feet. They load up with water by skimming along the surface of a body of water, often Castaic Lake, and “scooping” the water into their tanks.
“We lead the nation in the ability to manage wildfires,” Barger said. “These first responders are the best of the best.”
During the news conference Wednesday, Barger and Osby also reminded the community to have an emergency plan in place and to evacuate when instructed.
“Please do not wait, evacuate,” Barger said.
The L.A. County Fire Department’s current contract with Quebec will have the SuperScoopers in the county until spring 2019, according the the department’s public information office.