Photos of aircraft on the Red Canyon Fire in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Above: Air tanker 866 drops on the Red Canyon Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The lightning-caused Red Canyon Fire was reported at 12:45 p.m. MDT on Saturday 9 miles southwest of Pringle, South Dakota but an aggressive attack on the ground and from the air stopped it at 13 acres.

In addition to engines, and water tenders, and four hand crews, at least 10 aircraft joined the battle. We were there for a couple of hours and observed one large air tanker, at least five single engine air tankers, one Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter, a lead plane, an air attack ship, and an Astar B3 helicopter.

In the gallery below, click on an image to see a larger version, then click the arrow buttons.

Interview with Jim Fournier, air tanker pilot

Jim Fournier of New Frontier Aviation flies a Dromader single engine air tanker (SEAT) for the state of South Dakota. On September 1, 2015 we caught up with him at the SEAT base in Hot Springs a couple of hours after he dropped a load of retardant on the Bitter Creek Fire which enabled the firefighters on the ground to tie in the last piece of open fireline, stopping it at 87 acres. Tanker 455 put one 550-gallon load on the fire, split into two drops.

Bitter Creek Fire
Bitter Creek Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
T-455 Bitter Creek Fire
Tanker 455 orbits, sizing up the Bitter Creek fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
T-455 Bitter Creek Fire
Tanker 455 descending on final to make a drop on the Bitter Creek Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert..
T-455 Bitter Creek Fire
Tanker 455 completing a drop on the Bitter Creek Fire. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
T-455, Dromader
Tanker 455, a Dromader. Photo by Bill Gabbert.
T-455, Dromader
Jim Fournier with Tanker 455, a Dromader. Photo by Bill Gabbert.