Tanker will have longer response

The threat that the heavy fire tankers were leaving Minden has been looming for at least two years. That's when the news that the federal government was looking to consolidate its operations in Stead was first announced.

On Friday the other shoe dropped when the BLM announced they were pulling their tanker support crew from Minden-Tahoe Airport.

Four people are required to operate the tanker support, which mainly consists of being able to work the pumps to refill the big tankers.

Unless someone else is willing to pay the four people needed to support the tankers, they won't have much reason to land in Minden.

The federal government paid landing fees to Douglas County for the right to land at the airport. They also purchased fuel from airport merchants. Those dollars will be missed.

What will be missed even more will be the almost instantaneous response to wildfires in Carson Valley. Federal officials have made a lot of the 5-minute difference between response times to South Lake Tahoe from Stead and Minden. We're not sure we agree with that figure.

The big difference to Carson Valley will be the almost immediate response here when the tankers were stationed in Minden. Folks who live in Coleville, Walker and in southern Douglas County will have to wait a lot longer before a heavy tanker gets to them.

At the rate they're leaving the fleet, the heavy tankers will one day be a thing of the past. But we've seen them work and know that one big blast early in the fight is a lot more effective than several little blasts after a fire has been raging for six hours.

Fifteen minutes is a long time to wait when a wall of fire is rushing toward your home.


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