Cal Fire Air Attack Base Ready for Action

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With hot weather forecast to return to the North Bay this week, Cal Fire’s Air Attack Base at the Sonoma County Airport is geared up, and ready to respond.

Crews there have spent the past few weeks training and preparing for what is expected to be another very busy fire season.  Although unusually heavy rain in May has kept fuel moisture higher than in most years, it takes only a few days of heat to make the region’s brush and grasslands tinder dry.

The base is home to a pair of S-2 air tankers that are first responders in case a fire breaks out across a large region that encompasses 8 counties and 4000 square miles.

Beginning on June first and continuing through the fire season, 3 pilots, 3 firefighters an engineer and a captain will man the Sonoma Air Attack station to respond to any emergency from dawn to dusk.

The Sonoma County Airport base is one of 13 similar air attack bases statewide, spread out to allow crews to reach any area of the state within 20 minutes.

A pair of 20 thousand gallon fire retardant tanks are filled and ready to go, enough to fill each of the S-2 attack planes 20 times.  The base also has powdered retardant on hand to mix at short notice to bolster its supply at any time.

The base has the capability to handle up to 10 air tankers in case of a big fire, including a large high capacity C-130 air tanker contracted from the state of California.

Air Attack Captain Nick Welch described to News of the North Bay what happens when a fire call arrives.








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