Mesa man creates 20-foot tower to battle wildfires

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Garry Tomsen's Silvertip Tower was born from a 15-year-old sketch. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Garry Tomsen's Silvertip Tower was born from a 15-year-old sketch. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Thomsen said the 20-foot tower can be erected in 10 minutes with a crane, connect to any water or foam source, and make it rain at a fraction of the cost of other methods. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Thomsen said the 20-foot tower can be erected in 10 minutes with a crane, connect to any water or foam source, and make it rain at a fraction of the cost of other methods. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Thomsen said he has gotten interest from fire departments, as well as insurance and oil companies. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Thomsen said he has gotten interest from fire departments, as well as insurance and oil companies. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Our wet winter provides a favorable wildfire forecast in the high country, but could still pose problems for lower elevations. One Mesa man said he has a low-cost solution to fighting fires. 

Garry Thomsen dumped water on wildfires from the cockpit of a helicopter for 43 years. 

"I often wondered why don't we have a sprinkler system to put in a suburban environment to protect homes?" Thomsen asked.

[RELATED: Officials see greater wildfire danger in southern Arizona]

His Silvertip Tower was born from a 15-year-old sketch.

Thomsen said the 20-foot tower can be erected in 10 minutes with a crane, connect to any water or foam source, and make it rain at a fraction of the cost of other methods.

"That tower you're looking at is going to be $150 a day," Thomsen said.

[RELATED: Arizona man creates exterior sprinkler system to combat wildfires]

"It'll do it in the dark," Thomsen said. "There's not too many helicopters that can deliver water on fires in the dark."

The net generation will also be equipped with infrared cameras. Thomsen said he has gotten interest from fire departments, as well as insurance and oil companies. 

While he believes his tower will protect homes, he said his goal goes beyond that.

"No. 1 is we won't have to put fire crews in harm's way," he said. "We lose too many firefighters every year."

[RELATED: Wildfire, flood risks spur forest thinning near Flagstaff]

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Lindsey ReiserLindsey Reiser is a Scottsdale native and an award-winning multimedia journalist.

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Lindsey Reiser

Lindsey returned to the Valley in 2010 after covering border and immigration issues in El Paso, TX. While in El Paso she investigated public corruption, uncovered poor business practices, and routinely reported on the violence across the border.

Lindsey feels honored to have several awards under her belt, including a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence Award, Hearst Journalist Award, and several National Broadcast Education Association Awards.

Lindsey is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, and she currently serves as a mentor to journalism students. She studied for a semester in Alicante, Spain and also earned a degree in Spanish at ASU.

She is proud to serve as a member of United Blood Services’ Community Leadership Council, a volunteer advisory board for the UBS of Arizona.

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