A plane that is 30 metres long with a 40-metre wingspan, and capable of carrying 15,450 litres of water, has been sent in to fight a blaze burning out of control near Wellington.
‘Thor’ is the top gun in the NSW Rural Fire Service stable of firefighting aircraft and was deployed this afternoon after a major blaze broke out at Wuuluman.
Orana Rural Fire Service manager Lyndon Wieland said almost 300 hectares of rugged terrain had been burned out.
“We’ve lost a fair bit of grazing country. It’s rough, steep country but thanks to the efforts of the very large aircraft it’s close to containment,” he said.
“We’ll have crews there 24/7 working on having it under control between now and Friday, when temperatures are expected to rise up as high as 43 degrees and conditions become even more treacherous for fires.
“As well as ‘Thor’, which has dropped two loads this afternoon, we’ve had other fixed-wing aircraft there, as well as two dozers, two graders and excavators to try and create a bare earth firebreak prior to Friday.
“In total we would have in excess of 60 people out there working on this blaze.”
Such was the ferocity of the blaze, there was confirmation of damage to a fire truck however Mr Wieland stressed nobody was injured as a result
The powerful firefighting aircraft was officially unveiled back in October of last year, and is a Hercules C130 tanker on loan from the United States to help with what was predicted to be a difficult bushfire season across the state.
At the time of the launch RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons warned NSW could expect "above normal" conditions this summer.
"With a confirmed El-Nino weather pattern in place, we are prepared for what could be a difficult fire season," he said.
"Despite the imposing firefighting capacity of these aircraft and the commitment of our firefighters, people should not be complacent when it comes to bushfire."
Emergency Services minister David Elliott said the two aircraft on loan were part of the state government’s $10 million commitment to trialling new ways of fire fighting.
"When you consider the normal bucket-load carried by a water bombing helicopter is around 1,500 litres and an Air Crane with up to a 9,000-litre dropping capacity, the potential impact of these impressive firefighting planes is incredible,” he said.