When fires are too tough to access by land, firefighters turn to the air.
“We can get there as soon as hot spots pop up,” Jim Didio of the Tehama County Fire Department said of using aircraft to help fight fires.
The Vina Helitack Base in Tehama County has seen an increase in helicopters recently. The aircraft are helping battle the 17,000-acre fire located east of Los Molinos.
“This is fire season and it’s kicked off big this year,” said Anthony Montano, a National Guard State Aviation Maintenance Officer. Montano has flown helicopters for the past 26 years—fighting both military battles and wildland fires. He says the risks of flying in combat are equal to the risks of flying in fires.
“The visibility, the high temperatures, the power margins, the number of aircrafts near fires is about as dangerous and risky as flying in combat,” Montano said.
On Saturday, Montano transporting ground crews to the Deer Fire in a UA 60 Blackhawk helicopter.
‘It’s really hard for the ground crews to get in there,” he said. “There’s not many roads or access ways to get them in there. The only way to get them in there is via air.”