Environment & Science

Super Scoopers arrive in LA to help with fire season

A Canadair Super Scooper releases water during a demonstration at the Van Nuys Airport in 2012.
A Canadair Super Scooper releases water during a demonstration at the Van Nuys Airport in 2012.
Jerry Gorin

As of Sunday, two giant water-dropping airplanes are now in Los Angeles County to help with the rest of the fire season.

The Super Scoopers, which were leased from Canada, arrived three weeks ahead of schedule. They will be based at Van Nuys Airport.

The planes can carry up to 2,600 gallons of water, more than double the amount of water carried by other fire-fighting helicopters, according to Gustavo Medina, an Inspector with the L.A. County Fire Department.

"Instead of just rotating helicopters, we can now also use them in tandem. It would just help alleviate fire crews on the ground cause of the fact that they have more water," Medina tells KPCC.

Beginning Monday, the planes are ready for any big fires that flare up.

Medina says they help, "tremendously. Specifically for our department, it just adds to our aerial fleet."

L.A .County has been leasing the tankers from Quebec for at least three months out of the year — but depending on how fire season shapes up, that could be extended.

Up to now, the fire department has always leased Super Scoopers because it's less expensive than owning the air tankers. But with an extended drought turning fire season into a year-round battle, the county may consider buying them.