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Air tanker base in Klamath Falls sees one of its all-time busiest days

The tanker base saw a flurry of activity on Monday as aircraft fighting the Tucker and Harriette fires continually touched down to fill up.

Posted: Jul 30, 2019 6:45 PM
Updated: Jul 30, 2019 6:50 PM

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — For roughly 24 hours, the air tanker base in Klamath Falls saw more activity than it's seen in some time. Aircraft engaged on the Tucker Fire in Modoc County and the Harriette Fire far northwest of the city were constantly touching down, filling up, and taking off again.

According to Don Cavin, the manager of the air tanker base, Monday may have been the third or fourth busiest day that they have ever seen. Over the course of the day, tankers filled up with some 92,000 gallons of fire retardant — largely dropped on the Tucker Fire, burning in Modoc National Forest land.

There were twelve different air tankers coming in and out for a total of 41 retardant loads, Cavin said. By Tuesday, the base had to call in trucks to replenish its supply of retardant.

Also by Tuesday, the base was largely silent — no planes landing or taking off.

"The federal air tankers are not based anywhere in particular," Cavin said. "They move around the country, to wherever they are needed . . . so a lot of times, as you can see, our ramp is empty. All of the aircraft that we were supporting yesterday, despite how many we had, they all went back to Redding or alternate bases."

It was a slow start to Fire Season for the base, Cavin told NewsWatch 12. Now, with new fires popping up each day, the crew is starting to get busy.

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