All super scooper planes in the US fight Calf Canyon Hermits Peak Fire
SANTA FE, NM (KRQE) – The Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires are the largest of the Lower 48, and the fight to put them out is a national effort. A record-sized airline fleet is assembled in Santa Fe, and KRQE News 13 has a look at some of the planes.
The Santa Fe airport is now the main headquarters for all aircraft heading to Cerro Pelado, Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fires. “That’s where all the basic operations are. So they go back and forth where the command post needs them,” says Santa Fe Fire Department Fire Chief Brian Moya, “We have eight scooper planes on the north side of the airport, two Chinook helicopters and two Skytrain helicopters. . We also have the national guard, they also participate in the efforts.
This airport is big enough to handle the increase in air traffic, a luxury that small towns in the North facing the flames do not have. “We have the biggest wildfire in the lower 48. So they injected a lot of resources into us,” says Moya. In fact, this is an unprecedented amount of resources. Officials say it’s incredibly rare to have all of these super scooper planes in one place at the same time.
Scott Blue is the captain of one of the scooper planes. He spent Thursday fighting the fire, making 12 drops, scooping up water from the lake and strategically dropping it onto encroaching flames.
“There are two companies in the states that operate them: we’re Bridger Aerospace, they’re Aeroflite here – the white [planes]— and this is the first time the whole fleet has been in one place at once, all eight machines,” Blue says. Every super scooper in the United States, according to Moya and Blue, has been focused on saving New Mexico communities from the flames. “With the president signing this statement, we acted much faster even before the fires were over,” Moya says.
“It’s an ever-changing animal, for lack of a better term. The fire, the wind changes, the fire changes. Speed, humidity, temperature. There are a multitude of factors that play into how the fire unfolds as it should,” Blue says. He says they stay as long as needed and are happy to help.
The Santa Claus Fire Department says it’s also providing resources in Las Vegas — about a 23-person strike team is helping fight the fires. They also help execute 9-1-1 calls and other operations to supplement the force there. Moya says they are also still holding a fundraiser for victims of the northern New Mexico fires. For more information, visit the fire station’s Facebook page here, or visit their website here.