L.A. County readies Super Scoopers for fire season

A Canadair CL-215 "Super Scooper" flies over Santa Clarita on its final leg of a journey from Quebec, Canada to Van Nuys. Cory Rubin/The SIgnal

Two significant weapons in L.A. County firefighters’ arsenal against brush fires have arrived, county fire officials confirmed Monday.

“They are landing today — they’re going to be operational on Sunday,” said Austin Bennett, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. 

Every year, the L.A. County Fire Department leases two CL-415 Super Scooper airplanes from Quebec, Canada, which assist in local efforts throughout L.A. County, particularly in the rural areas of North Los Angeles County, including the Santa Clarita Valley.
The planes landed at Van Nuys Airport Friday afternoon where they are stationed and maintained at a building firefighters call the Van Nuys Tanker Base, because “That’s the only place where we rent out a big enough hangar for them,” Bennett said, adding the large yellow-and-red planes can usually be seen stored in front of the buildings there. 

Fire officials are planning a news conference next week to announce the planes’ arrival.

“We appreciate the government of Quebec, which works with us to contract with these firefighting aircraft every year at this time,” said Tony Bell, spokesman for L.A. County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who added that the planes’ efficacy in putting out fires is “unmatched.”

“Our first hope is that this is not an unusually extreme fire season,” Bell said, “but we have to be prepared, and part of that preparation is having the right tools.”

The lease with Los Angeles County allows for the Fire Department to use up $7.5 million in service for the Super Scoopers. However, the county typically uses less than half that amount, approximately $3.5 million, according to Bell. 

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