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Cal Fire BEU’s new helicopter just in time for fire season

MONTEREY/SAN BENITO COUNTIES, Calif. (KION-TV)-- With the high number of fires on the Central Coast, residents' concern continues to rise.

Over four fires have impacted communities in the area in the past week. Dryer fuels and weather conditions have continued to increase fire alert year-round.

To help bolster fire fighting, Cal Fire purchased a Sikorsky s70i, which is stationed at Hollister Air Raid Base. In 2018 Cal Fire received approval from the Governor's Office to purchase up to 12 of these Fire Hawk helicopters.

"You can split your load so that you can support the crews on the ground, and they're cutting the line, then you can go back and give them a second download," Stipanovich says.

With a gross weight of 22,000 pounds, a cruise speed of 160 mph, a two-pole turbo engine, a thousand-gallon water tank, and night vision, this helicopter gives crews an advantage in firefighting.

From May 1 through November, Cal Fire is on high alert. Fire season is here virtually year-round in California, so the new equipment is a game-changer.

"If you call 911, you're going to get a battalion chief, five movers, two dozers, two hand crews, two water trucks," says Cal Fire Battalion Chief Tim Stipanovich, who discusses the causes of the latter. Fires and how they seek to act to reduce these risks.

"We're seeing the fire activity that we see in July and August, and we were seeing in May and June. So when we had the first rains in October, we got a good crop of vegetation, but we didn't really get anything for a long time, and it was it dried up faster and faster. So that's why we're seeing a lot more fires now,"

Stipanovich adds that they have 30,000 gallons of liquid retardant ready for their tanks anytime it's needed.

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Ricardo Tovar

Assignment/ Web Manager for KION News Channel 5/46 and Telemundo 23

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