'Planes take off from Roseburg, and they'll fly to the fire'

'Planes take off from Roseburg, and they'll fly to the fire' »Play Video
Two single engine air tankers are now based in Douglas County to help respond to new fire starts. The Oregon Department of Forestry said they planes helped battle the fire near Dexter southeast of Eugene on Monday.

ROSEBURG, Ore. - As lightning rips across the region, fire managers can take a SEAT.

But they aren't sitting down on the job: Roseburg Regional Airport is now home to a Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) base.

The aircraft were used to help attack the Dexter Creek Fire southeast of Eugene on Monday.

The aircraft can be very effective during the intial attack phase of fires, wildland firefighters said.

"The planes take off from Roseburg, and they'll fly to the fire. They have about 800 gallons of fire retardant on board," said Kyle Reed with the Douglas Forest Protective Association. "After they drop, they'll return to Roseburg. It takes about three minutes to reload with more fire retardant, and then they can take off again and return to the fire. We have two of them here, so they're working in tandem."

"Initial attack" is a wildland firefighting term for the first air or ground units to tackle a new ignition. Most fires don't escape initial attack; the few that do can grow into the kinds of mega fires that burn for days or weeks - or until fall rain arrives.

The initial attack on the Dexter Creek Fire appears to have worked: The Oregon Department of Forestry said the fire is 50 percent lined and poses no threats to any homes at this time.