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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Missoula's Neptune Aviation Helping To Fight Fires In California

Neptune Aviation air tanker drops retardant on a fire.
Steve Whitby/Neptune Aviation
Neptune Aviation air tanker drops retardant on a fire.

A Missoula-based fire aviation company is helping battle a massive wildfire in the heart of Northern California wine country.

Five of Neptune Aviation’s nine jet tankers are hitting the Kincade Fire with retardant drops to help slow its spread.

Neptune spokesman Kevin Condit says California fire officials have requested the company send one more aircraft. Tanker 41 is expected to leave for California Thursday.

Pushed by winds topping 70 mph, the Kincade Fire has devoured at least 10,000 acres as of Thursday afternoon.

Condit says those powerful winds can make for challenging flying conditions.

"It certainly makes the operation of the aircraft more difficult and potentially more dangerous, depending on where we’re fighting the fires. But our teams, particularly at this point in the season, they have been through everything in terms of differnt weather conditions and differnt fire conditions. We’ve got a great crew both in the air and on the ground. We’re quite confident in what Neptune’s doing in California."

A representative of the Northern Region of the U.S. Forest Service says no local fire fighters have been deployed to battle the Kincade Fire.

The Northern Region includes northeastern Washington, northern Idaho, Montana and parts of North Dakota and South Dakota.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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