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BLM’s ‘Very Large Air Tanker’ used in East Oregon fires

air tanker
KIFI/KIDK

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Living in a desert climate like Idaho, it's nice to know you're near the right equipment for a big fire.

The Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service's DC-10 'Very Large Air Tanker,' or VLAT, is a busy piece of equipment. On Tuesday, it departed for the Badger Fire in Twin Falls, a 15-minute flight from the Pocatello Regional Airport.

The tanker carries 9600 gallons of retardant, which is 3 times what the other tankers at the base can carry.

This year, the VLAT hasn't been flying over East Idaho very much.

“We haven’t had quite the fire season the rest of the west is experiencing right now,” said Robert Barnes, the interagency aviation officer.

But the tanker is still getting its share of action.

“We’ve got quite a range with these VLAT air tankers in particular, so we send retardant all over the place,” Barnes said.

The tanker can reach to Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, and East Oregon where Barnes said it was dispatched to the other day.

“We’re a pretty busy base. Our gallons of retardant pumped this year is just shy of 1.2 million gallons,” Barnes said.

In a typical year, the base pumps shy of 700,000 gallons of retardant. So, while fire season in the immediate area has been relatively lucky, the crews operating the air tanker have been doubly busy. And fire season is not over yet.

Idaho / Local News / Pocatello / Top Stories
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Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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