‘Super Scooper,’ fire bomber lights at Lake Tahoe
Nicknamed the “Super Scooper,” for its capacity to repeatedly scoop and drop large quantities of water on a fire, a Bombardier CL415 aircraft will be stationed at Lake Tahoe Airport for the summer.
The CL415 provides the U.S. Forest Service with increased initial attack capability in the Lake Tahoe Basin and surrounding forests. Water scooper tactics support ground-based wildfire suppression by dropping water directly on burning fuel, often with short turnaround times due to proximity of water sources.
The CL415 is turbine-powered, has a normal cruise speed of 180 knots, and can carry up to 1,621 gallons of water. In an average mission of six nautical miles distance from water to fire, it can complete nine drops within an hour and deliver 14,589 gallons of water. Although water scoopers are fixed-wing aircraft, they are used in much the same way as heavy or medium helicopters. Typically, they assist during the early stages of burning to drop water directly on the active flanks and head of a fire, knock down slopovers and spot fires and cool down hot spots and fireline. It takes about 12 seconds to fill the CL415, which then water on the fire from a height of about 100-150 feet.
Similar to other aerial firefighting assets, the CL415 serves as a national resource to be deployed in accordance with current fire suppression priorities. “Stationing the CL415 Super Scooper in the Lake Tahoe Basin recognizes the drought conditions in the Sierra and the high consequences of a severe wildfire in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” said Forest Service Fire Management Officer Kit Bailey. “We’re pleased to have this aircraft available to further increase our effectiveness in fighting wildland fires in the Lake Tahoe Basin and surrounding forests.”
While its primary use is initial attack of wildland fires, the aircraft can also be used for large wildfire support. Like all aircraft, it must be supported by firefighters on the ground. The crew follow stringent protocols to prevent the spread of invasive species and other environment impacts. “We thank our partners in the Lake Tahoe Basin for their support in bringing this important firefighting aircraft to Lake Tahoe,” said Forest Supervisor Jeff Marsolais. “Through our joint efforts, we’ll can assure the community that we’re doing our best to protect the health of the Lake while protecting its communities from wildfire.”