Take Two for June 5, 2013

US Forest Service can now use night-flying helicopters to fight fires

Powerhouse Fire - 10

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

A helicopter drops water over flames in Angeles National Forest. Three days ago a fire broke out in Valencia, miles away from the Powerhouse Fire.

The Powerhouse Fire east of Castaic Lake has burned more than 32,000 acres and is currently 65 percent contained. Thankfully firefighters have a new weapon to tackle wildfires like this: night-flying aircraft. 

The U.S. Forest Service hasn't used nighttime aerial firefighting operations since the 1970s due to reasons of safety and cost. The agency relied on other local agencies for these firefighting tools when available. 

“We will never know for certain if night flying could have extinguished the Station Fire in those critical early hours, but adding this capability will give us a better chance in future wildfires to protect residents’ houses, precious natural resources and, most importantly, lives,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, in a statement. “The restoration of this capability by the Forest Service – though long overdue – could not come at a more critical time, with one wildfire burning across Southern California and more expected throughout the summer."

Congressman Adam Schiff joins the show to explain how this new tool will allow firefighters to be more productive against fires during the crucial nighttime hours. 

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