These photos were taken by CAL FIRE at a spot fire on the Detwiler Fire and at the helibase off Highway 49 north of Mariposa, California Thursday July 27. A spot fire added another 100 acres, to bring the current size up to 81,650 acres.
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.
The operator of the three DC-10 Very Large Air Carriers, 10 Tanker Air Carrier, announced today that they set a company record yesterday, July 18, when Tanker 911 flew 10 missions in less than six hours of flight time to deliver 108,000 gallons of retardant to the Detwiler fire. That’s 10,800 gallons per sortie.
It is our understanding that they were reloading at Castle Air Force Base 25 miles west of the fire. Another one of the company’s DC-10’s, T-912, was also working the fire.