Supertanker to assist with California wine country wildfires

747 supertanker palmer fire

(Above: The 747 SuperTanker drops on the Palmer Fire south of Calimesa and Yucaipa in southern California, September 2, 2017. Photo by Cy Phenice, used with permission).

A 747 Supertanker will assist firefighters battling a series of fires that erupted overnight Sunday in California’s wine country.

Global Supertanker announced Monday morning it would assist with efforts to battle the Atlas Fire in Napa County, California. The fire broke out about 9:20 p.m. Sunday and quickly burned approximately 5,000 acres, fanned by high winds, CAL FIRE reported.  

The Atlas Fire is among a number of blazes that started Sunday night and Monday morning, forcing thousands of residents from their homes and leaving crews scrambling through the night to get a handle on the sheer number of fire starts.

The largest, the Tubbs Fire, scorched in excess of 20,000 acres within just a few hours, Santa Rosa Fire reported. The fast-moving fire forced the evacuation of area hospitals, closed schools and led officials to recall all city employees to help staff the emergency operations center.

Details about damages or injuries were not immediately available by daybreak Monday.

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Author: Jason Pohl

In addition to writing for Fire Aviation, Jason Pohl reports on public safety-related issues for The Arizona Republic and USA TODAY.

14 thoughts on “Supertanker to assist with California wine country wildfires”

  1. from what i understand the santa rosa fire is now at 35,000 acres,has burned through a mobile home park and burned a strip mall including a Kmart store and two motel/hotels have etiher burned or are on fire now,T944 made a couple passes on the Lobo fire ,which is now a part of the “wind complex” in nevada county,and will be heading to the fire at santa rosa.

    1. Thank you for posting “finally the use of the 747 SuperTanker”! One begins to wonder why the delay in the use of equipment that is useful in the fight against rampant fires that threaten life and homes! Use of this tanker and others like it would greatly assist in the reduction of the loss of life, acreage, and homes include the safety of the first responders the firefighters who are on the ground! Thank you for finally thinking and using useful equipment “outside the box”!!

      1. Deployment of any privrate owned air tankers was probably delayed until assurances of payment for services could be guaranteed…….after all Govenor Goofball has a full size train set to build.

        1. No, the delay was from the forestry service. The 747 aka T944 was aproved by the FAA, and California State government, but the U.S. Forestry said No to the use of it! Search the CNN story on the topic!!!!

      1. Hey Pat (and Diane),

        Jason Pohl here (the author). Just to be clear, most of these fires started late Sunday or early Monday. This post was written Monday morning (roughly 6 to 9 hours after ignition) once there was daylight and the ability to tell more clearly what scope of disaster was unfolding. I’m not defending or criticizing the length of time prior to Global Supertanker’s involvement. Only highlighting that it was just a few hours — not days or some extra-long response time as your comment might suggest.

        Just for what it’s worth. Cheers!

        Jason Pohl
        Wildfire Today

  2. Super tanker is now on the Atlas fire. Just saw it make a few passes up Green valley!

  3. Observed Siller Helicopter, Croman Corp. and Withrotor Aviation ground crew operations for the Redwood Potter Complex Fire in Mendocino County, CA, October 2017. Very professional and efficient.

  4. Again they were not prepared for such an event! This 747 supertanker should be set up for automatic dispatch for populated areas! When the winds increased in the Napa area it should have been loaded and rolled out to the end or near the end of the runway! Logistics should have been worked ou months ago! I am retired Operations Section Chief and you have to understand where your danger zones are located and understand there are two areas in California with high winds, drought, low Humidities, and low fuel moistures! This 747 is the most effective firefighter in the sky! The interagency’s should have had this 747 under contract earlier!

    1. No, the delay was from the forestry service. The 747 aka T944 was aproved by the FAA, and California State government, but the U.S. Forestry said No to the use of it! Search the CNN story on the topic!!!!

      1. I am sure it was budget and no one had the cahonies to override the B&F in the Forest Service! This was a 911 for help to save homes and lives! I had the same thing happen in NM in 1993, we had a crown fire running towards a Girl Scout camp which was 8 miles away but heading dead on to it! Dispatch said they had two c-130’s in San Diego and already had ordered to dozers on a red devil! B&F said I didn’t need the air tankers. I sternly told the dispatcher I would let them explain to the Girl Scouts why I was not allowed to order the air tankers! I got the air tankers they filled them in flag staff, AZ and the tanker base in Albq. was activated! I ordered runs from 2:00 sundown! We contained the wildfire at 4:00 a.m. The next morning at 5,000 acres, no harm to the Girl Scout camp!
        This 747 that Mr. Wheeler owns should be financed through an interagency contract and should be staged during Western fire season near cities are in high risk red Flagg zones! With its regulated drop capabilities it should only be used when communities are threatened! Believe me it would have got a workout this year! An interagency contract would allow for all standby fees to be shared and allow for an automatic dispatch in these high risk zones! I imagine the 747 can stay over the target area a long time!

  5. The supertanker was used in CA fires 2 times before the fires broke out in Napa, the Palmer fire and the Ponderosa fire (

    It was dropping on the fires in Napa/Sonoma on Monday, and as was mentioned, the fire only started Sunday night.

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