WASHINGTON – After a lengthy and destructive wildfire season in California, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., inserted language into a defense bill that will double the size of the U.S. Forest Service’s fleet of large air tankers.
Feinstein said that the amendment, which she co-sponsored with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would transfer seven surplus HC-130H Hercules aircraft from the Coast Guard to the Forest Service.
Feinstein and McCain included the language in the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate approved the bill late Thursday on a vote of 84-15.
The transfer will also include 15 smaller C23-B Sherpa aircraft to transport cargo and smokejumpers.
The announcement comes the same week as firefighters were working to contain a 500-acre wildfire in Big Sur south of San Francisco. The blaze destroyed more than a dozen homes, including the local fire chief’s.