Debate over use of jumbo bomber as wildfires rage in West
Written By Associated Press
This May 5, 2016, photo provided by Global Supertanker Services shows a Boeing 747 making a demonstration water drop at Colorado Springs Airport in Colorado Springs, Colo. The company with the 747 retardant bomber that can drop nearly 20,000 gallons.
This January 2017 photo provided by Global Supertanker Services shows a Boeing 747 at an airport in Santiago, Chile. The company with the 747 retardant bomber that can drop nearly 20,000 gallons (75,000 liters) on wildfires.
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A company with a Boeing 747 bomber that can drop more than 19,000 gallons (72,000 liters) of suppressant on wildfires says federal officials are keeping it grounded, putting homes and ground-based firefighters at risk.
Officials with Global SuperTanker Services filed a protest with the U.S. Forest Service late last month contesting a contract limiting firefighting aircraft to 5,000 gallons (18,900 liters).
The limit appears to conflict with the Forest Service's 2012 air tanker modernization strategy report identifying air tankers capable of dropping more than 8,000 gallons (30,300 liters) as a part of its firefighting effort.
The Forest Service declined to comment.
Watchdog and firefighter advocacy groups say the agency might be trying to cut firefighting costs that have been using up its budget as wildfires have grown increasingly destructive in recent decades.
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