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Big planes tapped late in fire battle AIR: Water-droppers of lesser capacity used first four days.

Byline: Dan Abendschein, Staff Writer

While the Station Fire raged out of control in Angeles National Forest The Angeles National Forest (ANF) was established by executive order on December 20, 1892 as the San Gabriel Timberland Reserve. It covers over 2,600 km² (650,000 acres) and is located in the San Gabriel Mountains of Los Angeles County, just north of the metropolitan area of Los  for four days, a pair of 12,000-gallon-capacity retardant-dropping airplanes sat idle at an airport in Victorville.

The DC-10 planes were available, but commanders overseeing the fire did not request them until Sunday Sunday: see Sabbath; week.  after the fire had grown to 50,000 acres, said Bill Payne
:The name may also be spelt Paine.

The surname Payne stems from paganus, see pagan. People
  • King Payne, a Seminole chief
  • A.R.
, aviation chief for Cal Fire.

"They called us up Sunday and told us they needed something bigger," he said.

The DC-10 planes were too unwieldy to get down into narrow canyons, said John Keesee, Incident Management Team 5 air operations branch The Air Operations Branch is a personnel branch of the Canadian Forces (CF). Order of precedence

Preceded by:
Royal Canadian Infantry Corps Air Operations Branch Succeeded by:
Logistics Branch


"The first couple days of the fire, the targets were not ideal for the DC," Keesee said. "Ideally for the DCs you need a long ridge that's fairly straight."

In the big planes, pilots "can't get down into small ridge lines," he said.

Fires change so fast it's hard to anticipate what the best attack might be, he said.

"Yeah, everyone would have done a lot of things different "A Lot of Things Different" is a single by American country music singer Kenny Chesney. It peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in 2003. ," Keesee said.

One of the DC-10s is on an "exclusive use" lease during the peak of the fire season, meaning the state can use it whenever it wants, and the county can request it from the state at any point.

The other DC-10 has a slightly more restrictive lease, but it is always available provided it is not being used by some other jurisdiction, Payne said. It was available during the first few days of the fire, he said.

Until Sunday, county fire officials used 1,200-gallon capacity airplanes to drop fire retardant fire retardant Public health A chemical used to resist combustion, which may contain polybrominated biphenyls and antimony oxide  in the fire's path. Two 1,600-gallon Bombardier SuperScooper airplanes, which drop water instead of retardant re·tar·dant  
Acting or tending to retard. Often used in combination: flame-retardant pajamas for children; a fire-retardant security chest.
, were also brought in from Canada on Sunday.

The county's fire chief agreed that the smaller aircraft were probably more appropriate when the fire first started.

"Sometimes when the fire is large but not huge, there are a lot of small aircraft that are working the fire that are more suitable," said Chief P. Michael Freeman Michael Roy Freeman (born 9 December 1960, London, England) is a New Zealand chess player. He emigrated to New Zealand in September 1967.

He was a pupil at Otago Boys High School, Dunedin from 1974 to 1978.
, who acknowledged the fire ended up being "huge."

Freeman Freeman can mean:
  • An individual not tied to land under the Medieval feudal system, unlike a villein or serf
  • A person who has been awarded Freedom of the City or "Freedom of the Company" in a Livery Company
  • The Freeman
 said he would have heard grumbling from firefighters if they thought the big planes should have brought in earlier.

"I haven't heard any complaint regarding them," he said. "Believe me, being good firefighters, we're good at complaining."

In addition, visibility over the fire was often poor, and large planes need to travel about 290 miles per hour to stay aloft, he said.

Freeman expects people will second-guess every move made by the Incident Management Team, of which the county was a part.

"There's all kind of opinions," he said. "We all understand that. Some of my bosses ask those kinds of questions. The tools have different purposes and there are different times and places to use them."

Staff Writer Ben Baeder contributed to this report.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 3, 2009

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