Gladiator Fire – Day 2

By: Category: AirtankersPrescottUncategorized

 

Yesterday morning the Gladiator Fire was reported near Crown King. What started as a structure fire in private property has extended to over 1300 acres and is threatening the town of Crown King, as well as other historical sites in the area. For those that didn’t hear, Crown King was barely saved during the 2008 Lane II Fire. Crown King is currently under a mandatory evacuation.

Two airtankers, T-06 and T-07, both P2V Neptunes operated by Neptune Aviation were already  in Prescott and called to action.

 

Things did not start well, Tanker 6 had issues on Saturday and didn’t fly during the afternoon (I was at the airport watching them), and the local newspaper later reported the plane had a hydraulic leak in one of the engines.

Today I saw (and heard) the planes flying in all morning, and as soon as I was free I grabbed my equipment and headed out to the airport. Even though the heat haze was rolling in, I was able to get some shots. Tanker 6 was parked on the main ramp, not the USFS ramp, and wasn’t flying. I discovered that reinforcements had arrived: Tankers 45 and 55 (flown by Neptune and Minden, respectively) had already joined the effort. I left as I had other things to take care of.

Later in the afternoon I got word from a friend that Tanker 43 had been flying out of Prescott since mid afternoon. I went to the airport once again, not before seeing Tanker 07 flying low over the parking lot as it received landing clearance.

At the airport, I soon realized the magnitude of the response: Tanker 6, still parked at the ramp, joined by 45 and 12. Tankers 7, 43 and 55 flying around. Also, I spotted a Sikorsky Skycrane parked at the west ramp, and soon after, a helicopter with a weird callsign reported on the radio, and I saw a Chinook on the distance. It turned out to be a civilian Chinook operated by Columbia Helicopters. Also, I saw that ground crews from California were already at the fire center, ready to reinforce the local firefighters. Unfortunately the light wasn’t good for taking photos from the usual spot, but I still got a couple good shots.

So as of two hours ago, the majority of the current airtanker fleet on contract with the US Government is stationed in Prescott, hopefully their efforts will save Crown King, once again.

I have plans to go tomorrow morning to see how things look like at the airport.

 

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