Thanks to a pair of massive “Super Scooper” air tankers provided for use by Arizona fire officials, local residents of a remote off grid community called Whispering Ranch were able to avoid evacuation. Hard working firefighters successfully defended residents and their livestock. The Painted Wagon fire is currently listed at 60 percent contained after spreading to more than 500 acres before it was brought under control by the aerial water bombardment.
Water scooper in action on #PaintedWagonFire. Fire is 550 acres, some of those acres include back burning operations as part of structure protection. @mcsoaz has lifted the SET notice for impacted residents. Video courtesy of @BLMAZFire #AZFire #AZForestry #Wittmann pic.twitter.com/DATuABLOBT
— AZ State Forestry (@azstateforestry) June 26, 2020
Air tankers save the day
The cause of the fire which broke out Thursday near 299th Avenue and Painted Wagon Road is under investigation as firefighters continue mop-up operations Friday. So far, the fire burned an estimated 550 acres. The air assault provided by a pair of Super Scooper air tankers saved the day.
The area where the blaze broke out is remote and isolated with no paved roads. Even GPS coordinates don’t match up properly so the fire was first reported 20 miles east. Getting fire trucks back to the area is difficult and if they could get there there isn’t much they can do without municipal water. Firefighters use what they call a “pumpkin” they fill up what looks like portable swimming pools so that helicopters and sky cranes can “use their hoses to draw water from these portable ‘tubs'” the state Forest Service relates.
The tubs aren’t nearly sufficient to supply the air tankers. The ones used Thursday filled up their reserves at Lake Pleasant. They provide a valuable assist to crews working on the ground.
Some of our firefighters are assisting @azstateforestry on #PaintedWagonFire W of Whittmann, AZ. A rare opportunity to work with “super scoopers” in the desert. Thes Airtankers have been working from Roosevelt Lake and currently dipping out of Lake Pleasant for this fire. #AZFire pic.twitter.com/2poPsNb8SK
— BLM Arizona Fire (@BLMAZFire) June 25, 2020
Ready Set Go
Arizona got to try out the new Ready Set Go awareness program. The Painted Wagon fire boosted the level up to “set” as they prepared to issue an evacuation order. The Red Cross put out a bulletin noting they “are aware of this fire and are on standby to respond as requested.” Local volunteers in the community “volunteered space” for displaced livestock.
According to a spokesperson with the Maricopa County Sheriff Thursday evening, the tankers were so successful that “residents could go back into ‘Ready’ mode, meaning residents will not likely be evacuated.