Wildfires’ star

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In the news business, just about everything can be turned into a controversy. It appears the wildfires in California provide just one example.

The big star of the last 24 hours has been this thing: A 747 tanker that drops fire retardant on the wildfires:

James Rainey, the media critic for the Los Angeles Times, suggests the cool tools are overshadowing the people on the ground:


This week’s coverage reminds me of the skewed perspective we get at the start of a Middle Eastern war. The airwaves brim with breathless video-fueled accounts of laser-guided bombs walloping a faceless enemy. We don’t see so much of soldiers slogging it out on the ground or the ugly aftermath of combat.

Well, whatever. The 747 is still pretty cool. The Web site, Wildfire Today (who knew?), profiled the plane’s innards during its stop in Spain in July.

There’s money in the wildfire-fighting business. The company that owns the 747 charges $29,500 an hour.

  • daveg

    $29,500 sounds like an exorbitant, opportunistic rip-off, until:

    “the math keeps it in the same dollar per gallon-delivered range as other aircraft.”

    The same dollars-per-gallon measured against eight times the capacity would, in theory, reduce time spent (wasted?) traveling to and from the fire site for refills. With that in mind it starts to sound like a pretty good deal.