Nighttime Water Dropping Aircraft Not Used in Northern CA Wildfires


Nighttime Water Dropping Aircraft Not Used in Northern CA Wildfires

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento burn injury lawyer. New information has come to light about the lack of nighttime firefighting planes in the area where a recent devastating fire broke out. Due to that, planes dropping water on the fire were not used until morning, allowing the fires to grow in the dark.

Nighttime Water Drops

Both the Tubbs and Atlas fires started at night and quickly mushroomed, heading on a path toward residential areas. While the heavy winds might have lessened the effects of nighttime water drops, none were used. This was due to the fact that no planes were equipped for night time flying. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has two helicopters capable of flying at night but they are used as ambulances. Both were used the first night of the fire to ferry residents out of harm’s way. Cal Fire has no planes or helicopters that are able to fly at night. All of its helicopters have only one engine, something that would make it too risky at night. The U.S. Forest Service has one aircraft that can do nighttime drops. No requests for nighttime equipped aircraft from other areas were made, and a helicopter sent from Kern County’s fire department arrived a day late.

Cal Fire Is Authorized to Buy New Helicopters

In 2016, Cal Fire received a $12 million authorization to buy 12 new helicopters with night time flying capabilities. They would replace some of the Vietnam era copters presently in use. However, the new helicopters have yet to be purchased.

Experts Say Nighttime Flights May Have Made a Difference

Several experts weighed in on the delay in using aircraft water drops immediately. One, a firefighter who spent 33 years fighting fires with the U.S. Forest and National Park Services, said that losing those critical hours was important in containing the blaze. Another, an assistant director of planning for Cal Fire, said that the high winds would have made nighttime flights useless and said that they are helpful when the conditions are appropriate.

Situations Where Nighttime Drops Made a Difference

Fires in Los Angeles and San Diego benefited from nighttime water drops in the past. The Los Angeles Fire Department has a fleet capable of night flights, and night flights there have been used to great success.

Losing Everything

Fires can rob individuals of all they own. Worse yet are burn injuries that can cause extreme pain and disfigurement. The hours immediately after a burn are important, and it is necessary to get the victim to a regional burn center where teams are available and trained to treat the individual. At the scene, if possible, rescuers should remove burned clothing and jewelry, and cool the victim’s skin, guarding against hypothermia.

Treatment of Burn Injuries

After debriding the burned skin, doctors will attempt to use grafts to cover the burned area and promote healing. Skin banks provide much of the needed tissue. Infections are of crucial importance, and the use of full antiseptic technique is used. Infection requires the use of topical and oral or IV antibiotics to avoid the proliferation of bacteria if toxic shock syndrome arises due to Staphylococcus Aureus in the wound. Other species of bacteria and fungi can cause gangrenous changes, and strong measures must be taken and necrotic tissue must be removed.

Facial Burns and Scarring

Facial burns are complex to treat, and aside from damage to the skin, the eyes and the airways can be damaged. After the victim is treated initially, reconstructive surgery is commonly needed.

Related Articles by Sacramento Burn Injury Lawyer Ed Smith ~

Sacramento Burn Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento burn injury lawyer. When someone is burned, they often face a long road to recovery with high medical expenses and long periods away from work. If this happened to you, call me at (916) 921-6400 in the Sacramento area or (800) 404-5400 toll free.

I have helped numerous residents of Sacramento and those from Northern California with traumatic injuries and wrongful death claims for the past 35 years.

I belong to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum as a California member. Take a look at this forum where all the trial attorneys have garnered $1 million or more for clients.

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