Hired help at hand as fire season begins
THE state’s firefighting arsenal was put through its paces heading into the bushfire season.
The DC-10 Very Large Airtanker, nicknamed Belle, holds almost 44,000 litres of water, which it can drop at the speed of 280km/h.
It, along with the Lockheed L100-30 Airtanker, nicknamed Thor, has been contracted by the NSW Government from the US for the 2015-16 bushfire season, which began on Thursday.
The impressive capabilities of the big guns have been tested, along with those of the Erickson Air Crane, nicknamed Gypsy Lady, which is capable of dropping a more modest 15,000 litres of water.
NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons welcomed the new tools.
“This season is shaping up to be a very difficult season, and that’s largely attributed to the Bureau of Meteorology confirming we have a strong El Nino that’s formed,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.
He said the forecast for the next three months for most of NSW was for above-average temperatures and below-average rainfalls dominating right along the coast, along the ranges and west of the ranges.
Despite the show of force, Emergency Services Minister David Elliot warned residents not to get complacent.
“These two new aviation assets are going to provide reassurance to the communities across this state that they will have as safe a summer as possible,” Mr Elliot said.
But he said the hard work the many RFS volunteers did during bushfire season was invaluable and extremely appreciated each year.