Multi-Agency partnership helps fight fires across Wyoming

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 6:11 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - For three years, the Wyoming State Forestry Service has held a contract for single-engine air tankers, also known as SEATS, in Casper. 2022 is the first year they’re partnering with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Wyoming BLM.

“We’ve all partnered this year to provide staffing provide fire retardant materials and to provide the contract to maintain two SEATS, or the single-engine air tankers, that are stationed here at the hangar,” said Wyoming Forestry Outreach Coordinator Kim Hemenway.

Each of the two state-contracted air tankers has the capacity to drop 800 gallons of fire retardant to help fight fires from the air. The planes offer a rapid initial attack against fires regardless of the land jurisdictions a fire is on.

“We can cut corners, we can fly over Laramie Peak and get to places a lot faster than ground resources... Our goal is just to put the fire out before it becomes even more costly,” said Wyoming Forestry Assistant Fire Management Officer Chris Fallbeck.

According to officials the average response times for the planes are 45 minutes. Unlike many similar programs, the SEAT planes are based in Casper and will return to their hangar daily unless weather prevents travel back.

The single-engine air tankers help to fight fires across Wyoming and even into neighboring states. The central location allows response to most areas of the state with a single fuel load.

“Casper’s a great location for aircraft the smaller planes have a limited radius they can ride to based on their fuel limitations, so being in central Wyoming is hugely beneficial,” said BLM High Plains District Fire Manager Craig Short.

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