A 180-day program providing additional firefighting helicopters to departments in Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura counties will begin Tuesday.
The Quick Reaction Force program includes two Boeing Chinook CH-47 helitankers, one based at Van Nuys Air Tanker Base and the other at the Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos, and a Sikorsky S-61 helitanker, based in Ventura County.
The CH-47s are considered the world’s largest fire suppression, retardant-dropping helicopters with the capacity to carry 3,000 gallons. Unlike other firefighting helicopters, they have the ability to fly at night.
“That’s a lot of firefighting power, if you will, when you can drop 3,000 gallons of water onto a brush fire. It’s an important tool,” Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Thanh Nguyen told City News Service. “We’re grateful that we will be able to use it. It’s impressive.”
The program is being financed with nearly $18 million from Southern California Edison.
Millions of residents in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties are among the most vulnerable living within wildfire-prone areas, fire experts said.
Extreme drought conditions and dry vegetation, along with predictions of a dire wildfire season ahead, led to the formation of the QRF program.
Read more on this story from NBC Los Angeles