The Elephant Butte Fire burned about 50 acres on steep terrain southwest of Denver two miles northwest of Evergreen Lake, Colorado. It was reported around 3 p.m. on Monday July 13 and the spread was stopped at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday July 14 by good work from firefighters in the air and on the ground, with a big assist from rain.
Skippyscage.com got some great photos of the aircraft battling the blaze, both while they were over the fire and at the air tanker base at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (JEFFCO) northwest of Denver. With his permission, we will showing you some of his shots in five installments.
Today we are featuring Tanker 101 (N292EA), an MD-87 operated by Erickson Aero Tanker.
Click here to see the series of five installments of photos of aircraft on the Elephant Butte Fire, posted daily from July 17 through July 21, 2020.
Here are more photos of Tanker 101 from the archives.
The Forest Service has activated two Call When Needed large air tankers for a 90-day Mandatory Availability Period. This is a guaranteed 90-day contract, not the typical CWN arrangement when they can work a few days and then be sent home.
Tanker 104 (an Erickson Aero Tanker MD-87) is scheduled to start today, May 30, and Tanker 137 (a Coulson B-737) will start June 1. Their administrative bases will be Porterville and McCall, respectively.
After these are on board, there will be 15 large and very large federal air tankers on duty. For the United States. In 2002 there were 44 on exclusive use contracts.
Air Tanker 101, an MD-87, has been working on several wildfires in Florida over the last week.
May 7-8: repositioned from Alamogordo, New Mexico to Lake City, Florida, then delivered four loads of water on the Moonfish Fire in Big Cypress National Preserve in south Florida, one on May 7 and three on May 8. It was dropping plain water, rather than retardant or another chemical, due to the sensitivity of the Everglades ecosystem. (about 320 miles south of the Lake City Airport)
May 11: Made six drops on the High Hill Fire in the Apalachicola National Forest in the Florida panhandle southwest of Tallahassee. (about 134 miles west of the Lake City Airport)
May 14: Two drops on the 36th Ave. SE Fire east of Naples in south Florida.(about 281 miles south of the Lake City Airport)
A problem with an engine on April 21 resulted in an unscheduled landing for an Erickson Aero Air MD-87 air tanker.
While Tanker 101 was returning to Alamogordo, New Mexico after dropping retardant on the Holcombe Road Fire in Crockett County Texas, the left, or number 1, engine went into an overspeed condition and had to be shut down. Matt Isley, General Manager at Erickson Aero Tanker, said as that was being done the auto-throttle decreased the thrust in the other engine. The pilot then had to override the auto-throttle to power up that engine again.
The crew declared an emergency and landed safely on one engine after diverting to Midland, Texas (MAF) as airport crash-rescue trucks stood by.
Mr. Isley said the engine itself did not fail, the problem was caused by an engine control cable.
We received a report that a lead plane followed Tanker 101 while it was en route to Midland, but Mr. Isley said he had not heard anything about that.
The company’s maintenance personnel are on scene to begin the process of replacing the engine. Erickson stores most of their spares at their facility in Madras, Oregon.
Mr. Isley said they have had an air tanker working out of Alamogordo, NM since the beginning of March.
This is the fourth MD-87 air tanker engine related failure of which we are aware. The other three:
Engine problems on the MD-87 are noteworthy because when they began there was an issue of retardant dispersing over the wing which left open the possibility of it being ingested into the engines. The company had an external tank, or pod, fabricated and installed below the retardant tank doors in 2017, which lowered the release point by 46 inches, mitigating the problem Kevin McLoughlin, Erickson’s Director of Air Tanker Operations said at the time.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Doug. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
The Woodbury Fire 12 miles east of the Phoenix suburbs became very active on the northeast side Tuesday beginning at about 2 p.m., sending up another large column of smoke that blew off to the northeast. It added another 3,894 acres to bring the total up to 44,451 acres.
On Wednesday fire crews are preparing for the possibility of the fire moving north towards Roosevelt and east towards the Pinto Mine along Pinto Canyon. Firefighters will be using burnouts and existing black lines to divert fire from the Reavis Ranch, Roosevelt, and mining operations. They will continue the preparations along 500 KV power lines to make them more defensible, masticating brush and building bulldozer lines where appropriate.
The smoke is expected to spread to the east on Saturday, becoming noticeable in Southern New Mexico and Western Texas.
Above: Air tankers 101 and 103 at Durango, CO May 28, 2018. Photo by Dave Herdman.
Dave Herdman took these photos of the air tankers that were working out of Durango, Colorado May 28 during the Horse Park Fire. Thanks Dave!
And speaking of the Horse Park Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have released more details about the near miss that occurred on the fire May 27 in a remote area of Southwest Colorado. The report disclosed that in addition to the two firefighters that had to abandon a stuck truck, a lookout in another location also fled on foot and ignited an escape fire at a potential fire shelter deployment site as the fire approached. According to the information released there were no injuries.
The four aircraft working on this fire represented 30 percent of the large air tankers that are on USFS exclusive use contracts this year.