One of the only DC-10s in the country designed to fight fires arrived Thursday at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The plane, which can hold 12,000 gallons of retardant, was sent from California to help with the Wallow fire in eastern Arizona.
“At this point this is going to be the most beneficial for the terrain,” said Dolores Garcia, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management who is assisting at the Phoenix Interagency Fire Center’s mobilization facility located at the airport.
It’s the first time this plane has been used in the Southwest area, which includes Arizona and New Mexico, Garcia said.
It takes about 30 minutes to fill up the plane and it will take another 30 minutes for it to get to the area, Garcia said. Once there, it can release all its retardant in about 15 minutes and return to Mesa for refueling. It can cover about a mile of the fire at a time.
The plane will keep circling back and forth as long as the conditions allow, Garcia said.
“If the winds pick up too much we won’t be able to use this aircraft or any other,” she said.
The plane is owned by a private company and under contract with the U.S. Forest Service and its partners.