WA bushfire aerial fleet makes record drop

'Georgia Peach', an Erickson Air Crane fire bombing helicopter. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright
'Georgia Peach', an Erickson Air Crane fire bombing helicopter. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Wainwright

WESTERN Australia’s firefighting aerial fleet has dropped 8.9 million litres of water so far this bushfire season, which is more than half the water used for the entirety of 2018-19.

The recent Yanchep bushfire alone accounted for about 4.7 million litres of water, Emergency Services minister Francis Logan said.

It is also the driest start to the southern season in more than 40 years.

The Georgia Peach aircrane, which has been fighting fires in Greece, arrived in Perth on Monday.

WA’s aerial fleet now consists of 33 rotary and fixed-wing suppression and aerial intelligence aircraft.

Firefighters on the scene of the bushfire which was threatening lives and homes in Perth. Picture: DFES incident photographer Evan Collis

Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan said it was a welcome sight for many Western Australians to see the Georgia Peach once more in our skies.

‘But I don’t think many people appreciate how important a role our aerial intelligence aircraft also provide,” he added.

“They are equipped with the latest in surveillance technology that allows them to beam images of the fire to the Incident Management Team on the ground.

“The video streaming and fire-mapping conducted by aerial intelligence is critical to making strategic operational decisions during bushfires.

“That mapping and sophisticated view of the fire not only helps the water bombing efforts, but also the management of firefighting resources on the ground.”

He said that although the aerial fleet was an integral tool in the state’s firefighting arsenal, it was the firefighters on the ground who win the fight.

“They were ably assisted in Yanchep with a staggering 4.7 million litres of water dropped on the fire from the fleet, but it was their efforts that saved homes and people from harm,” Mr Logan added.

“Western Australians, however, must still appreciate the nature and power of bushfires and there will be times when there can never be enough resources just as we have seen with the catastrophic fires over east.”

The Yanchep bushfire emergency. Picture: Josh Tucker

Acting Environment Minister Roger Cook said the┬ácapability of the State’s aerial fleet had been tested with large bushfires near Yanchep and Collie.

“I’m sure the season will continue to be challenging, but with the expertise of firefighting staff on the ground and the aerial firefighting fleet available to assist these crews in protecting life and property, we are ready to meet the challenge,” he added.

“Thank you to the hardworking firefighters from the Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Fire and Emergency Services, local brigades and volunteer firefighters. I wish you all a safe bushfire season.”

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