Edison International

01/22/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 01/22/2021 12:33

Helitanker Provides Vital Support During Busy Fire Season

Residents in Southern California experienced several wildfires last year and some may have seen the large white, red and black helitanker flying overhead as it made its way to help put out a wildfire by dropping 3,000 gallons of water in a single pass.

The Orange County Fire Authority put the Coulson-Unical CH-47 helitanker, the world's largest heavy-lift fire helicopter, to work at four incidents last year, including The Bond, Tonner Canyon and Firestone fires.

In December alone, the aircraft saw 20 hours of flight time and 528 hours of standby time, making 101 water drops for a total of 223,438 gallons of water.

Southern California Edison contributed $2.2 million toward OCFA's lease of a Coulson-Unical CH-47 helitanker from October to December last year, a busy period during California's now year-round wildfire season.

Based at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos, the helitanker provided both day and nighttime fire suppression support in SCE's 50,000-square-mile service area.

SCE President and CEO Kevin Payne said at a news conference last year: 'The intensity of the 2020 wildfires so far, plus the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, have put pressure on the state's firefighting resources. With that in mind, it is a privilege for SCE to support the readiness of fire agencies such as the OCFA, which are on the front lines of protecting lives, property and critical infrastructure.'

'The helitanker is a force multiplier, especially during wind-driven wildfires,' said OCFA Fire Chief Brian Fennessy. 'With the ability to drop 3,000 gallons on a single pass, it made a significant difference in last year's wildfires. We appreciate the vision and generosity of SCE in making this very large helitanker available to help keep the communities we both serve safe.'

SCE funded the helitanker as part of its Wildfire Mitigation Plan, which also includes the installation of hundreds of weather stations and wildfire cameras, predictive technologies, enhanced overhead inspections and insulated power lines.