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WA Lands Commissioner Pushes For More Air Support On Wildfires

Global SuperTanker Services

Washington Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz says the state learned a valuable lesson last Labor Day weekend. She says it can’t rely on other states for airborne help when wildfires break out. She’s making the case for a bigger state investment.On Tuesday, Franz and her team went to Moses Lake to get a look at a 747 that’s been turned into an air tanker capable of dropping water and retardant on fires. She says it’s a one-of-a-kind plane that the state could really use during wildfire season.

Compare that to what it has now: “We have a mighty fleet, a small, but mighty fleet of 11 helicopters, most all of which fought in the Vietnam War - they have the bullet holes to show for it - as well as a few fixed-wing planes that we have under exclusive contract," Franz said.

She says it’s not a formula for success at a time when fire seasons are getting more destructive. Franz says her agency will invest more in air support if the legislature approves her request for a wildfire prevention and suppression fund. That would receive an estimated $125 million every two years. That’s part of a larger forest health package moving its way through the legislature. The bill passed the House unanimously and is due to be voted out of a Senate committee on Thursday.