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Senator Wyden Pushing for More Aircrafts

By Sharon Ko

MEDFORD, Ore. — Summer is nearly here and that means wildfire season is set to become a top priority among fire crews. Resources are already spread thin and fire officials say it’s a concern, but state officials are hoping to help.

Senator Wyden stopped by the Medford Air Tanker Base on Tuesday. He announced that he, along with other senators on the west coast plan to head to Washington D.C. to put pressure on the U.S. Forest Service.

Fire season is approaching with limited aircrafts to battle flames. The Gladiator Fire ripping through Arizona has already consumed thousands of acres. Officials fear wildfires like that may be just the beginning of a larger threat.

In 2006, the U.S. Forest Service had 44 large air tankers in its fleet. Now, it’s downsized to 11 under contract. 10 of those have been around for 50 years. Fire officials say resources in Oregon are already spread thin.

Senator Ron Wyden is hoping to change that; he is teaming up with a group of senators in the west to Washington D.C. he says it’s time to put pressure on the U.S. Forest Service to find other options, like contracting services with private companies.

Once in Washington, D.C. Senator Wyden says he says he hopes to get the number of aircrafts up to the mid-twenties. Fire officials say this fire season in the Rogue Valley is expected to be fairly reasonable.