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Jul 5, 2012 10:20 AM by David Jay - Q2 News

Air tanker use up, early in fire season

BILLINGS - Five air tankers have been flying in and out of the Billings tanker base all day today - targeting the the Power Line Fire south of Hysham, and the new Taylor Fire, south of Ashland.

Three PV-2's and two Canadian Convair 580's are working out of the the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) air tanker base at the Billings airport.
Since last Thursday...air tankers have made more than 110 drops on wild fires in eastern Montana.

Normally Air Tankers are not pressed into service until later in the fire season.

"You know we've pumped up to date from June 26th to today over 263,000 gallons [of retardant]," said Jim Hassler, air tanker base manager for the BLM in Billings. "Since I've been here, and I've been here for some time, I don't think i've ever come close to doing that by this date. Usually we're just getting ready to go, preparing for the season."

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise makes the decisions on where to send the three PV-2 air tankers.

The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation contracted to use the two Canadian planes.

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