Red Tape Fuels Raging Wildfire

By Anna Schecter

Sep 20, 2006 11:21am

Bureaucratic red tape is preventing two planes modified for aerial firefighting from combating the wildfires raging today in California. A DC-10 and a Boeing-747 "Supertanker," specially equipped with firefighting technology, have been waiting for days for the U.S. Forest Service and FAA to approve them to fight the rapidly spreading wildfires that have already consumed 84,035 acres. Local residents are furious about the idle equipment that could potentially save their homes. "This is ridiculous. The Lockwood valley is already under a voluntary evacuation order, and there are a lot of elderly people living up there," said one resident who lives near Lockwood Valley, an area threatened by the fires. The DC-10 was used by the California Department of Forestry with great success to fight a California fire in July on land under the state’s jurisdiction, according to Rick Hatton, Managing Partner for 10 Tanker Air Carrier who owns the plane. But this time the plane is grounded because the fire is on land under federal jurisdiction, and according to a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman, the agency has not yet had time to give it federal approval. In Marana, Ariz., the Federal Aviation Administration’s paperwork is preventing the Boeing-747 Supertanker from taking action. In this case, the Forest Service has already approved the plane, and it is ready to fly, according to Bob McAndrew, President of Evergreen, the company that owns the plane. A spokeswoman for the FAA says the agency is finishing up the last couple of tests and that it hopes the aircraft will be ready to help fight the fires some time next week.

You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus