PRINEVILLE, OR -- We’re used to seeing the big fire retardant air tankers in local skies during fire season, but nimble new Single Engine Air Tankers (also called "SEATS") are designed to keep forest fire outbreaks small until reinforcements show up.
Kristin Dodd, Protection Unit Forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry in Prineville, tells KBND News, “They’re able to drop this retardant product, over 700-gallons. You work them in tandem, that’s 1500 gallons. To be able to get aviation support to back up our crews on the ground allows us to box a fire in to keep it at the smallest acreage possible.”
These planes have a crew of one - just the pilot. They can be in the air 15 minutes after a fire is called in and can reload new non-toxic fire retardant in just five minutes. The day they arrived at the Prinevill airport they went out on a fire south of Dufur.
The Single Engine Air Tankers will respond to fires on BLM, Forest Service or State Forestry land; wherever they are needed.