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A new type of wildland firefighter

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“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (2) – 6/24/20

CL415EAF may look like a foreign license plate number, but it’s actually the name of a new Canada-built plane that will help fight fires in Montana this summer. Bridger Aerospace in Belgrade contracts the plane out to various agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and although the price tag sits high at $30 million, it is fully equipped with state-of-the-art water-hauling capabilities, providing a whole new toolkit for scooper pilots—the extensively trained firefighters responsible for scooping water from nearby lakes and dumping them onto wildfires. “It’s an amphibian, which means we can land and scoop up water off of water bodies and go directly to the fire, whereas all the other aircrafts have to return to the airport to be reloaded,” Capt. Al Hymers, a lead scooper pilot for Bridger Aerospace, told NBC Montana. “We can just go to the nearest lake or water source closest to the fire and work.” Six more CL415EAFs will arrive in Montana over the next two years.

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