Airport used for refilling air tankers with retardant on Detwiler Fire ran out of fuel

retardant p2v Redding
Reloading a P2V with retardant at Redding, August 7, 2014.

Most of the large air tankers working on the Detwiler Fire at Mariposa, California are reloading with retardant at Castle Airport 25 miles west of the fire. When an air tanker needs fuel, they will often have it pumped onboard at the same time the retardant tanks are being refilled. And sometimes a pilot will prefer to work a fire with less than a full tank of fuel so they can carry more retardant. They will have to refuel more often, but the weight savings is very important.

On Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for CAL FIRE, the vendor at Castle Airport ran out of fuel, so air tankers needing more had to divert to Mather Airport southeast of Sacramento to get fuel, and then fly to Castle for retardant before returning to the fire. The spokesperson said that by Thursday the fuel shortage had been resolved.

Fire officials are establishing a retardant site for helicopters so that they can drop long term retardant on the fire rather than water, which is less effective. This was also done on the Whittier Fire, as we reported a week ago. Below is the video from that fire.

3 thoughts on “Airport used for refilling air tankers with retardant on Detwiler Fire ran out of fuel”

  1. This doesn’t pass the smell test. Why would tankers go to MHR to fuel and go back to MER when MCC is 7 miles away?

    1. the DC10s were diverted for every other load to MCC, where they went heavy on fuel so they could then reload twice out of MER(castle) before needing more fuel from MCC. they only needed about 3 trips to MCC total and it was at the end of the day.

  2. The USFS was advised Wednesday evening that the fuel supply was low and that to enable Gemini to service the BAE-146 and other smaller aircraft the DC-10s should pick up fuel at McClellan. Gemini never ran out of fuel. Fuel was received during the night and next morning. No fuel issues since Wednesday evening.

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