B.C.-based water bombers protecting California homes
State’s 'aggressive' approach to wildfires working, according to Vancouver Island-based Coulson Air
As crews battle California wildfires that have consumed more than 1,000 structures, two Canadian aircraft are assisting with the largest of the blazes.
Port Alberni-based Coulson Aviation is supplying support from two of its C-130 water bombers to Santa Barbara County where the Thomas fire has forced tens of thousands of people to be evacuated from their homes.
CEO Wayne Coulson said conditions have been tough, with crews working days on end and in 40-knot winds, though winds had eased Tuesday.
"We're primarily doing structure protection, so as far as coming up on homes we get down nice and low and we're putting lines around structures," Coulson said.
Coulson described the state of California's approach to protecting structures as "aggressive."
"That's just a different type of business they're doing down there," he said.
"They feel very comfortable taking a 155,000-pound airplane 150 feet over people's homes in the urban interface," he said. "We've been doing it all summer and now we're doing it here in Santa Barbara County."
The company was scheduled to move their helicopters and planes to Australia for the winter fire season there, but the Santa Ana winds have prolonged the California fire season by about a month.