MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Planes taking off from Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport are helping fight fires around the state. Each day, crews analyze overnight fire data to decide which fire needs the resources from the air.
Crews at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport say it can't be stated enough how important aircraft fighting fires are because they can get through the rugged terrain fire crews on the ground can't. "These guys are imperative where firefighters can't go, can't reach in a timely manner. These guys can usually lay down a good line and keep everyone safe," said line service specialist Josh Kappes.
Aircraft fighting fires from the air have already used more fuel in the last month than they usually do for the entire wildfire season. "Oftentimes, our average is 500,000 gallons over three month period. Here, we are barely a month, maybe not even a month in our fire season, so it's substantial," said Kappes.
About 30 crew members work the fire air operations at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and they do it while battling extreme temperatures. "These guys are out here on this concrete ramp every day, working in summer heat. These jet fuel trucks have no air conditioning. They are working 'til job is done," said Kappes.