ODF brings in 747 air tanker to help with wildfire

This is the first time ODF has used this type of aircraft on a wildfire.

Posted: Jul 22, 2018 9:15 PM

NEAR GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- In southern Oregon, the Oregon Department of Forestry brought in a 747 VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) to help with the quick-moving Garner Complex Fire. 

This is the first time ODF has used this type of aircraft on a wildfire. ODF Spokesperson Joe Touchstone said on Saturday, it made three retardant drops on the Grave Creek Fire.

That's one of the 13 wildfires making up the Garner Complex Fire burning in the Grants Pass area, all caused by lightning.

The Garner Complex Fire is more than 7,949 acres and it's 10% contained. Touchstone said there are very specific guidelines for using the 747.

"It has to have a lot of long, straight air space to be able to maneuver in and drop the retardant," said Touchstone. "It's very effective when it meets those perimeters, because it can drop over 19,000 gallons of retardant in a very long and wide line along the fire's edges."

Touchstone said this is one of four VLATs that are assigned to this fire. He said a 747 VLAT was used in Oregon earlier this summer on the Klamathon Fire, but it was used by Cal Fire. 

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