Conair’s Bundaberg based Q-400 large air tanker and McDermott aviation’s Bell 214ST are just two of the many firefighting assets being sent to Fraser Island off the coast of Australia to help fight a blaze that began when an illegal unattended campfire ignited local bushland that has continued to burn for over six weeks on the national heritage-listed island.
The blaze is believed to have begun on Fraser Island on October 14th, 2020, and has continued to grow over the last six weeks, requiring the addition of aerial firefighting assets this week as the Bundaberg, Queensland based Conair Q-400 has joined the aerial firefight along with Cooroy based McDermott aviation sending a Bell 214ST, given the title “Guardian 1” who will continue to fight the fire from the air.
Conair’s Q-400 aerial firefighter joined Queensland’s aerial firefighting effort earlier this year, arriving in Bundaberg to serve for the fire season as part of an expanded effort by state governments to have assets placed strategically around states to respond more rapidly should fires move with the speed they did over last fire season’s “black summer” fires that grew exponentially over 4 states rapidly in October and November, stretching several states abilities in aerial firefighting as each state struggled to keep up with demand.
McDermott Aviation’s Bell 214ST has been in service for more than a year and is one of few Bell 214ST’s still operating around the world. This helicopter joins an ever growing fleet of aerial firefighting helicopters for the Cooroy, Queensland based operator that began as an aerial spraying operation, a mission the companies continues today.