POCATELLO – Federal officials are expanding a firefighting air base in eastern Idaho.
The air base at the Pocatello Regional Airport is busier than ever, as its traditional service area has spread further into Wyoming, Oregon and Nevada, officials said.
Just this Monday, a pair of DC-10 air tankers, which carry up to 9,400 gallons of retardant, launched from the air base to help contain a fire in Elko, Nevada, said Robert Barnes, an aviation officer with the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S Forest Service.
Aside from central Nevada, the base has also been dispatching an increasing number of aircraft to as far away as eastern Oregon, Barnes said.
The air base’s increasing importance is prompting the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to build a third “pit” at the Pocatello air base, where aircrafts will refuel and reload flame retardant, within the next couple of years, the Idaho State Journal reported .
The Pocatello base has accepted DC-10s since 2011, and Barnes said large tankers are coming by more frequently now.
The Pocatello base is also the only air base in the Great Basin – which spans from Oregon through nearly all of Nevada, much of Utah and portions of California, Idaho and Wyoming – capable of accommodating the massive DC-10s.
“Adding that third pit is going to make us more efficient in the long run to be able to service the area we need to service with the number of airplanes we’re seeing,” Barnes said.
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