AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin airtanker base and aircraft was unveiled Wednesday morning at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
The Texas A&M Forest Service has interagency firefighters and equipment positioned across the state to respond to requests for help in fighting fires. There is a DC-10 Airtanker at AUS to support local firefighter efforts.
The forest service opened the base at AUS last month.
“The airtanker’s speed is greater than that of a helicopter or single engine air tanker,” George Martin, air operations branch director for the forest service, said ahead of the base’s opening. “These aircraft will be able to get anywhere in Texas in under one hour. Suppression aircraft can respond quickly, increasing the likelihood that a new ignition remains a small, manageable wildfire.”
The forest service was monitoring conditions across the state and placing firefighting resources as fire danger remains high. As triple-digit temperatures persist and vegetation continues to dry, significant fire activity has increased across the state.
This year has been above normal for numbers of wildfires and acres burned, according to Texas A&M Forest Service. The service has responded to 7,906 wildfires for 619,866 acres across the state.
Thirty-four aircraft are positioned at 19 airports across Texas for wildfire response. In total, Texas A&M Forest Service has mobilized 114 aircraft to help fight wildfires this year. These aircraft have dropped over 10 million gallons of water and retardant on Texas wildfires so far.
Texas A&M Forest Service does not own any aviation resources but instead uses federal aviation contracts through the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for all firefighting aircraft.