The Texas Forest Service has ordered additional aerial resources to help battle the wildfires ravaging the Lone Star State.
In an effort to slow the spread of the flames, ground crews already have been utilizing some air resources - specifically helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft including single engine air tankers (SEATs) - for air reconnaissance and water and fire retardant drops.
Now, four MAFFs (Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems) and a DC-10 airtanker are helping with suppression efforts.
Congress established the MAFFS program in the early 1970s to provide military support for civilian air tankers. Each MAFFS unit - which consists of a 3,000 gallon tank - is installed on C-130 aircraft, essentially turning it into a modified airtanker that can drop a swath of retardant one-fourth of a mile long and 60 feet wide.
The DC-10 is a modified McDonnell Douglas aircraft that can hold more than 11,000 gallons of retardant. The plane can be filled in eight minutes and its computerized, gravity-fed water dump system can release its entire load in just eight seconds. It creates a swath three-quarters of a mile long and 300 feet wide.
Resources across Texas have been spread thin battling numerous wildfires fueled by historic drought and critical fire weather conditions. These additional aerial resources hopefully will provide some much needed relief for both communities and firefighters.
Monitor the current Texas wildfire situation at http://tamus.pr-optout.com/Url.aspx?513992x1370240x-1216488.