By Macy Jenkins

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A number of fast-moving fires tearing through Northern California are keeping McClellan Air Park busy.

Planes are fueling up for the firefight, including the largest air tanker in the world, the Supertanker.

The plane joined California’s firefighting efforts in August, and it’s being put to work against the worst Northern California’s fire season has to offer.

The converted 747-400 can hold more than 18,000 gallons of fire retardant. Between trips, it takes about 20 minutes to refill the plane for its next drop.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Dusty Martin says battling so many fires at the same time means they must have all hands on deck.

“Everybody’s got their place, and we all fit part of that puzzle,” he said. “This is one piece of that puzzle here. Without the guys here on the ground, we wouldn’t get retardant on the aircraft and get it to support the troops out on the fire.”

In addition to the Supertanker, there are 11 other tankers flying out of McClellan. They range from DC-7s that hold 2,800 gallons of retardant to DC-10s that hold 11,600 gallons.

The planes are flying to where they’re most needed at the moment, juggling blazes in Napa, Yuba, Butte, and Mendocino counties.

The planes are only able to fly when they have light, meaning they’re grounded at around 7 p.m., or a half hour past sunset.


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