Local Pilot Assists In Fighting Wildfires - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Local Pilot Assists In Fighting Wildfires

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DEER PARK, Wash. - When a big forest fire hits, Eric Johnson is one of the first people to find out about it.

His plane, the "Fire Boss", is a unique firefighting machine. It can hold 800 gallons, and he can refill that tank by touching down on a lake or river.

There are only 3 "Fire Boss" planes that are flying in the United States. Johnson was helping with the Liberty Lake fire that burned 14 acres of the east side of the lake. Johnson filled his planes 30 times to help fight that fire.

"When we come into the river or lake, touch down on the water, touch the probes in the bottom of the floats and it shoves the water in about 50 gallons a second, when we fill up, the probes come up and we go back to the fire," Johnson said.

One potential problem is always other boaters on the lake. Johnson said that people around here have been very good about giving him the middle of the lake.

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