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Updated Jun 4, 2013 - 8:10 am

Forest Service to send more fire-fighting airpower to Arizona

PHOENIX -- The Forest Service is sending a DC-10 firefighting air tanker to Arizona on Tuesday in preparation for fire season.

The converted passenger airliner that used to carry almost 400 passengers now carries more than 10,000 gallons of fire suppressant and is able to lay down a mile-long line around fires. It will be based at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport.

The tanker is based in Victorville, Calif.

"For a large aircraft it's nimble. It's another good tool for us," said Clay Templin with the Tonto National Forest. Aside from the tanker, more manpower will be brought in to fight fires.

"We're bringing in additional hotshot crews and engines from Idaho and Montana. We have a ready reserve that can respond to an emerging incident," Templin said.

The jumbo jet played an important role in saving the town of Greer from the 2011 Wallow Fire and has been used on the Powerhouse Fire in Southern California in the past few days. It will also see action on two fires burning in New Mexico.

Several smaller air attack planes are already based at Gateway.

"We're positioning air assets where they can quickly respond to new fires and we have the facilities in Mesa," Templin said.

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About the Author


Position: Senior News Reporter. Started with KTAR July 4, 1999.

Favorite spots in Arizona: Pinetop-Lakeside, Alpine, Greer.

Have covered some of the biggest stories in Arizona including nine of the top 10 largest wildfires in state history. The Wallow Fire in 2011 became the largest fire in state history. Rodeo-Chediski Fire in June 2002, which is the second largest fire in Arizona. Covered the Yarnell Hill Tragedy in June 2013 that left 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots dead.

Favorite movies: True Grit, both 1969 John Wayne classic and the remake with Jeff Bridges and Lonesome Dove.

Sports Teams: Washington State University Cougars, Texas Longhorns, The University of Montana Grizzlies.

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