Local March 29, 2023 | 8:09 am

Air force extinguishes forest fires from the air

Yesterday, the Villa Altagracia community was covered by intense columns of smoke due to a fire at its municipal landfill, which has been ongoing for several weeks. To combat the fire and smoke, special units of the Dominican Air Force were deployed, including up to two helicopters equipped with “Bambi Buckets.”

The Air Force had a team of eight people in the air, which included pilots, technicians, and observers who have been working tirelessly for weeks. According to Colonel As Henríquez Taveras, the pilot in charge of Public Relations for the Air Force, each aircraft has a crew consisting of two pilots, a maintenance technician, and an observer who directs the pilot to the precise location for water discharge.

In some cases, the Air Force is not even needed, and forest guards are enough to control the fire from the ground. However, the magnitude of the fire at Villa Altagracia required the use of two of the institution’s BELL UH-1H-HUEY II helicopters, which were equipped with the “Bambi Bucket” device capable of carrying up to 1,300 liters of water.

The flight to Villa Altagracia began at 9:00 am and stopped at the nearest river to fill the “Bambi Bucket” before transferring it to the fire to spray it with water from the sky. According to the pilot colonel, this is a normal occurrence in the country every year during the peak season for forest fires, which typically runs from January to the end of April.

The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, along with the National Environmental Protection Service (SENPA), has been pursuing those responsible for causing fires in various parts of the country for several days. Various sectors have expressed the need for more drastic measures against those found guilty of causing forest fires.

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