ESCANABA — With the increased fire danger that has been present in much of the region recently, the Upper Peninsula Fire Management Unit is making sure their aerial firefighting aircraft are ready if they need to be.
Two of these planes, or “Super Scoopers,” performed test drops Tuesday morning at the Delta County Airport. After pre-flight checks, the planes flew to Little Bay de Noc to scoop up water and drop it between the runway and taxiway at the airport, similar to the way the planes would work in a wildfire.
Although this equipment isn’t used very often, recent weather patterns have created ideal wildfire conditions and a reason to run these tests.
“We’re seeing the same sorts of numbers that happened in 2012 when the Duck Lake Fire and the Seney Fire took off. One of them burned 21,000 acres and the other one I believe burned 17,000 acres,” said Eric Rebitzke, forest fire management officer with the U.P. Fire Management Unit. “It’s an extreme year and we’re prepared.”
The “Super Scoopers” are currently stationed at the Delta County Airport. The airport is strategically located in the middle of the U.P., near both the Ottawa and the Hiawatha National Forests, and has easy access to both the lower peninsula and northern Wisconsin.
The aircraft will be stationed in other areas in the future, based on regional and national needs.