Martin Mars and other aircraft attack fire near Powell River

In this video the Martin Mars, a single engine air tanker, and several helicopters are seen making water drops on a fire near Powell River in British Columbia June 9.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Alberni Valley Times:

A two-hectare slash fire in Powell River is now under control, and it offered a good opportunity for the Hawaii Mars to show off the important role it can play in firefighting – an essential step given that the province has announced it will not use the bomber next fire season.

Alberni Valley resources played a big part in containing the blaze. Both the Martin Mars \water bomber and Thunderbird fire unit headed out to fight the Powell River fire on Tuesday.

“It was excellent for us,” said Wayne Coulson, CEO of the Coulson group, which owns the water bomber. “We did about four loads and whacked it out with a couple of other machines, and it was a quick one.”

According to Coastal Fire Centre fire information officer Marg Drysdale, the fire was three kilometres northeast of Powell River and the resources that took care of it were three initial attack crews, two officers and half a unit crew, which were the Thunderbirds.

“And then they brought in air tankers, including the Martin Mars,” Drysdale said. “And it knocked the fire down really well.” The fire was reported at 1: 55 p.m. and the Mars bomber began its action in Powell River at 5: 05 p.m., before finishing at 6: 16 p.m. after dropping four loads.


Thanks go out to John

11 thoughts on “Martin Mars and other aircraft attack fire near Powell River”

  1. Is this why the forest service wants to cancel the contracts on the Mars is it because they put out the fire .Perhaps the only contract that should be up in the air is the BCFS themselves .

  2. I’d just like to point out, Mark, that this is all coming from the OWNER of a company that stands to profit from being hired. You’d do well to take his comments with a grain of salt. There are legitimate reasons why the contracting of this aircraft is being considered and may be discontinued. There are plentiful aerial resources in BC, just because he exists does not mean there is an obligation to hire.

  3. I would like to point out isn’t that why the loggers setup the Mars program to protect a valuable resource from burning up so they can profit from it.And the operation performed admirably long before the BCFS took over the fire fighting duties .Coulson is in the business off fighting forest fires and has the assets to perform those duties unfortunately it takes government contracts to stay operational and make a profit to get through the off season just ask Conair ,Airspray,10 tankers,Butler, Evergreens 747 and the late aero -union .None off the above would survive without it. As for plentiful aerial resources whats left after Conair and Coulson. There are only helicopters .The BCFS has said it is taking its fire fighting in a new direction, as a logger I hope it is in the direction off putting out fires but with smaller aircraft I know thats not going to happen.

  4. Mark, I would have expected a “logger” to have the common sense to know that air resources (tankers, helicopters) don’t “put out fires”… crews on the ground do. As for your tirade on the superiority of the Mars, once again you’re not exactly on point. The Mars has been repeatedly stood down on targets as it simply isn’t capable of fighting fire in a lot of our terrain. For this fire and others like it (read: ocean-side slash fires) it is awesome, but a wing of 802’s or a 580 work in the large majority of BC’s terrain. The Mars was sold by the timber company collective because it’s an old, tired platform (again, highly effective in the above mentioned timber companies tenure) and is a low performer outside of it’s niche- but it sure does look cool (a good PR tool for the politicians).

    How about shelving the resentment towards the gov already.

    1. Your not wrong ground crew’s do mop up a forest fire what they don’t do is stand in front off a wall off flame and claim to put it out that job is left for mother nature or a massive amount off retardant to knock it down .As for the 802 ‘s I don’t believe they belong in the air tanker inventory for the coast and interior forest simply because they don’t carry any more than a med. size bell 212 and there isn’t enough retardant to even break through the forest canopy .I also believe the BCFS created a safety issue for the aircrew’s when they parked the firecat’s in favor off a single engine cropsprayer ,they should have re engined the Firecat’s or continued with the leaded gas as I believe there was not a part’s issue with the aircraft.When Weyerhaeuser bought out Macblo the lumber market was crashing and shareholder’s for Wey. said the aircraft don’t make me money so get rid off them and left Timberwest to afford the operation for themselves .Coulson seen the value in the operation and bought it .But unfortunately the aircraft and other scooper’s seem to be to big to fit in that little box that the BCFS work’s out off and from what I’ve seen they don’t seem capable off thinking out side off there little box .As for the video the Mars dropped 16000-24000 Gal off Thermogel in 1 hr at a cost off $15000 to $20000 on the fire and pretty much put it out .Your 802 would have made 2 drop’s on the perimeter off the fire and would take 10 to 15 aircraft to match the same amount off retardant dropped by the Mars and at a cost off between $30000 to $45000 I would say that’s not fair to the taxpayer’s and I intend to file a complaint to my congressman if the Mars operation doesn’t get a contract to help stay operational .

  5. Hey Mark, you seem to know just enough terms to appear informed, yet betray your lack of understanding of the facts with just about every sentence.
    The BCFS didn’t “park the Firecats”. Instead, the company that owned and flew them decided to retire them. That company, for a number of reasons, favours the Air Tractor 802 product, which carries an identical amount of retardant as the Firecat did. Incidentally, it’s almost three times the amount that a medium 212 helicopter can carry.
    The BCFS didn’t “take over firefighting” as you suggest. The BCFS has been fighting fires for 101 years, almost half a century before the Mars came to Canada.
    The loggers who conceived and converted the Mars into waterbombers in 1960 are the same people who quickly sold that facet of their business when it ceased to make operational and economic sense to them. That was long ago. The current owner first saw the Mars as a child and thought it would be neat to own a piece of local history. He had the means to purchase them, but not the knowledge to understand its limitations and the future global direction of aerial firefighting.
    Your quoted figures re the video are incorrect. No ThermoGel was dropped. None. I also question how you know the (incorrect) costs of the operation.
    Finally, I wonder which “congressman” you threaten to appeal to will give a flying fiddle about whether a Canadian plane receives a Canadian govt contract in Canada? Will he realise that the Mars has never bid on a government contract? Will it matter that the owner is upset because the gift has stated that it is no longer interested in issuing direct-award contracts? These contracts cost a lot of money for little useful return. I wonder how fair that is to your long-suffering taxpayers.

  6. Your wright the BCFS didn’t park the Firecat’s .The BCFS went to a turbine fuel only policy shortly after the Alberta FS went to turbine fuel only thus parking Airspray’s A-26’s .The Firecat’s were deemed too expensive too convert all of them so Conair went with the 802’s .The Firecat take’s on 50 gal more than the 802 and is about 100 mph faster with the added safety off a multi engine.And you did your homework on the bambi bucket. As for the BCFS alway’s in the fire fighting business ,up to the mid 70’s all they had were small crew’s and would generally shut down logging operation’s to help fight fires and when they needed more personnel the forest service would clean out the Bars.And that is why a consortium off company’s got together to save a valuable resource from burning up .The BCFS was not there like you claim they were.The aircraft were justified by the value off the timber saved not by an hourly rate for the aircraft. however that changed after Weyerhauser bought out Macblo in 1999 and Timberwest sold in 2007 ,that is not so long ago in my book.Now you say Mr Coulson first saw the Mars as a kid and only bought a neat piece off history and didn’t understand it’s limitation’s .Why don’t you tell the Mars aircrews they don’t understand the aircraft’s limit’s and nobody understands the direction off global fire fighting just like you do .As for the video how would you know if my figure’s are incorrect The Mars has been mixing foam or thermogel since 1987 and you didn’t get that right .As for the cost off the aircraft you can get a rough figure by the amount off fuel they use per hour and also previous rates can be found on the Internet as I’m sure you knew that.The Congressman thing( never mind you didn’t get it.) .As for Contracts Coulson’s operation pay’s more in stumpage fee’s and tax’s towards the BCFS and in turn the BCFS returns a small percentage in fee’s for there part in logging operation’s and fire fighting . That make’s Coulson a giver and the rest are taker’s otherwise he pay’s the BCFS wages .So as far as I’m concerned he has the right to a 5 month contract just like anybody else that is setup to do the job .

  7. “The retired Philippine Mars seems to also be in government limbo. The Coulson group announced three years ago that the retired aircraft was being donated to the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

    The plane was even repainted its original blue last year in anticipation of retirement at the museum. However, when it will be delivered remains unknown. “It has to be signed off by the White House,” Coulson said. “This is such a high profile asset and there hasn’t been a trade since 1992 because of problems internally in the government.” Coulson explained his group is supposed to get some ex-military assets in exchange for the Philippine Mars, but wouldn’t elaborate on what it is or what it would be used for, citing it’s still in negotiation. Add the fact that a Canadian company is trying to get those ex-military assets, and even more bureaucracy ensues, Coulson said.

    “I didn’t know there were so many lawyers in Washington D.C. and how every government department has its own lawyers,” Coulson said. “It’s a work inprogress.”

    Coulson added he doesn’t think the Philippine Mars will be leaving this year.”

    Speculating that Coulson may have been trying to negotiate a C-130 spares package to support its USFS air tanker contract.

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