In November of 1993, Malibu was engulfed in firestorms which led the Los Angeles County Fire Department to bolster its wildland firefighting aircrafts along with the addition of “Superscoopers” during the height of Southern California’s fire season. The “Superscoopers are back again on their 20th season that is supposed to be the worst in 100 years.
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First sparked along a stretch of the Old Topanga Canyon Road in Malibu, the Old Topanga Fire burned through 16,516 acres of the Pacific coast for 10 days on November 2 through 11. Three people died, 21 were injured, and 388 structures were burned. The damages of the Old Topanga Fire cost more than $500 million. Driven by the Santa Ana “Devil” winds, the fire burned through six linear miles of brush and structures within its fire hour. The flame lengths were as much as 200 feet.
Despite the Department’s full mobilization of brush fire resources the day before the fire’s start and the response of over 7,000 firefighters from 12 states, the devastation left behind caused the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Fire officials to launch “Operation Firestop,” a special task force focused on improving wildland firefighting. One of the recommendations was an evaluation of the CL-215T “Superscooper” aircraft for the Department’s initial attack on wildland fires.
“The “Superscooper” was selected for its ability to drop 1,620 gallons of water on a fire for quick suppression and to scoop water from any water source, including the ocean. Their capacity is greater than most of our own helicopter fleet,” says Fire Chief Daryl Osby. “The first arrived in Los Angeles during the 1994 fire season, and this year we celebrate 20 years of their annual return to the Southland to help us battle tough wildfires during the height of our fire season.”
Since their debut, the “Superscoopers” have played a decisive role in knocking down fires before they grow large and out of control. They arrived on August 15 and are automatically deployed on all first alarm brush responses until they are demobilized later in the year when the rainy season begins. Their Los Angeles legacy will be highlighted August 26 during the annual Contract Aircraft media day event at Van Nuys Airport beginning at 10 a.m.
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Source: Santa Clarita News