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Air Attack: Scoop planes join the fight against Thomas Fire - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Air Attack: Scoop planes join the fight against Thomas Fire

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(KSBY Photo) (KSBY Photo)

As winds began to die down Sunday morning, fire crews sent aircraft to battle the Thomas Fire

Fire officials say scoop planes were utilized as fire crews started day 14 of the fire. 

"They kind of fly in over a (body of water), scoop up some water into the belly of the airplane, and drop it where it needs to go," said Skye Sieber, public information officer for the Thomas Fire. 

A scoop plane is time efficient, Sieber says, they need about 12 seconds to fill its 1,600-gallon tank.  

"This is different than a helicopter that's dipping a bucket and pulling up water," Sieber said. "It's different than an air tanker that already has retardant in it. It's coming, collecting the water from the lake and then going where it's needed to go."

Sieber says she's never even seen scoop planes operating on a fire. 

"My understanding is they use them quite a bit in Canada," she told KSBY. "It's a resource that is available to us when they're not being utilized in Canada."

A scoop plane's travel time to and from the fire is about 10 to 15 minutes, which is a huge help to those fighting the flames in the rugged terrain. 

"They're giving a chance for the crews on the ground to kind of cool things off, so they can get in and do more direct attack," Sieber said.

With the wind being much more calm than Saturday, scoop planes and helicopters have been working nonstop all day to help contain the fire. 

Jay Smith, who is also a public information officer, says the western front of the fire near Santa Barbara is one of their main targets. 

"It's full bore," Smith said. "Let's go hit this thing. Let's attack it while we have this small opportunity to do it, because of the wind events that can happen, and are predicted to happen."

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