Butte County Fire partners with PG&E on firefighting helicopter

In northern California tomorrow, PG&E and Cal Fire / Butte County Fire will request from the county Board of Supervisors authorization for the use of a contract firefighting helicopter. PG&E has an existing contract with PJ Helicopters out of Red Bluff, which would provide the aircraft to PG&E and the county.

KRCR-TV spoke with Cal Fire Captain Dan Collins about the request to the board, and he said firefighting aircraft are extremely important. “They can get there before ground resources and start dropping either water or fire retardant. To provide more fire equipment to the county is nothing but beneficial to everyone.”

Butte County Fire covers fire protection within the unincorporated areas of Butte County, the City of Oroville, the Town of Paradise, and the cities of Gridley and Biggs. Collins said the Butte County Fire Department would maintain operational control of the helicopter and provide dispatch services, along with coordinating requests from other agencies.

Collins also explained that the contract would be a collaboration between Butte Fire and PG&E — so the county would not have to fund anything. If approved, the new helicopter would be stationed at the Chico Airport starting in July.

PJ HELICOPTERS:  The history of the company dates back to the early days of flight; as the great-nephew of aviation pioneer Samuel Langley, Phil Gunsauls began operating a single fixed-wing cropduster in 1968. A few years later, he decided to pursue his passion for rotorcraft. Originally using his first initial and his wife’s middle initial, “PJ’s Helicopter” started operations in 1970, and agricultural work eventually transitioned to firefighting.

Butte County fire history


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