Jet Tankers Help Quell Chile Fires

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An international force of air tankers has been tackling the forest fires that have wiped out thousands of square miles of Chile and U.S.-based Global SuperTanker says it’s been a record-setting effort for their converted Boeing 747. A wealthy Chilean living in the U.S. footed the multimillion-dollar bill to get the jumbo jet to Chile and it’s been put to good use, according to a news release from the company. “During its deployment in Chile, the Global SuperTanker set a world record for liquid dropped in a single day by a land-based aerial tanker at 134,400 gallons (508,000 liters),” the release said. “The SuperTanker, which has now been deployed in Chile for nine days, achieved this milestone through seven sorties on Wednesday, February 1, which far surpassed the previous known world record of 110,000 gallons.” The aircraft can drop 19,000 gallons of liquid in as many as six different drops. It’s working alongside another jet air tanker from the other side of the world.

Russia sent an Il-76 waterbomber to Chile and it’s also been busy. The Il-76 can carry 11,000 gallons of water or retardant. The two big tankers have been joined by aircraft from Canada, Brazil, Colombia, France and Portugal. The fires have relented in recent days and Chile has ended its state of emergency in the affected areas. The government has spent $333 million battling the blazes, which blackened 500,000 hectares, destroyed 1,610 houses and killed 11 people, including five firefighters. Video below gives an idea of how close those fires are to cities and how much water that 747 can hold.

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