This spring, the DNR is operating a new aircraft as part of its aerial firefighting fleet. The aircraft is an amphibious air tractor "Fire Boss". The Fire Boss is a single engine air tanker equipped with floats. It flew its first fire mission Wednesday near Aitkin.
"The Fire Boss has been used extensively firefighting in Canada and Europe but this was its first operational mission in the United States," said Sheldon Mack, DNR aviation supervisor.
The Fire Boss is capable of scooping up to 800 gallons of water and also has foam capabilities. The Aitkin fire was 335 acres and had jumped ditches when the Fire Boss was requested. Incident Commander Brian Pisarek said the aircraft used a payload between 500 and 600 gallons and dropped with good accuracy. The nearest water source was about eight miles away and it took about 10-15 minutes for the aircraft to load and return. In total the Fire Boss dropped seven loads of water before it was released from the fire.
An additional fire was flown on Thursday near Cambridge, with only one drop was made on that fire.
"We have the ability to use the Fire Boss both on its own and in conjunction with our CL-215 water scoopers. It will give us another tool in our aviation toolbox," Mack said.
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