Cooroy firm to fly in super firefighter
A SUNSHINE Coast aviation company is in the thick of the fire fight in NSW and is prepared to bring into Australia the largest aircraft ever used here for the purpose if requested.
McDermott Aviation managing director Simon McDermott said a joint-venture arrangement meant it now had available a Boeing 747 VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) aircraft capable of dropping 38,000 litres of water and fire retardant at a time.
Mr McDermott said if needed, the aircraft, which had five times the capacity of the NSW Government’s 737 fire bomber, could be operating within 48 hours.
The company has 40 aircraft and support teams already deployed across fire zones in Australia with a primary focus on those raging in NSW.
Aircraft are operating from first to last light each day with some already engaged for the past 130 days.
Last week the company’s aircraft were engaged in suppressing fires on the NSW north coast with attention now shifting to the state’s south.
It has also been active in Western Australia and played a major role in a series of pre-Christmas fires on the Sunshine Coast which forced the evacuation of Peregian, Tewantin, the Noosa River north shore and peri-urban areas stretching from Peregian Springs to Doonan.
More than 900 homes have been destroyed this fire season with another 97 in the past two days in blazes that have claimed four lives. Another four remain missing.
News Ltd reports there were currently 112 fires burning in NSW alone.
On New Year’s Eve thousands of tourists and residents fled to the shoreline in Mallacoota as temperatures reached 49C and fires roared eastward through East Gippsland, destroying the historic township of Cobargo.
In total News Ltd reported 500,000 hectares of vegetation had been consumed by fire in Victoria.
New Zealand officials had reported smoke from the fires had travelled 2000km to blanket areas including Otago, Dunedin and Queenstown.