What machine has been called upon to help combat the fires in Northern California?

Answer: the world's only Boeing 747 SuperTanker.

by / October 12, 2017

Also known as “the world’s biggest fire extinguisher,” the modified Boeing 747 aircraft based in Colorado Springs, Colo., was called in earlier this week to help fight the fires raging in California's Sonoma and Napa counties.

The only one like it in the world, the SuperTanker has been in service for eight years and has contributed to firefighting efforts around the world, including in Spain, Israel and Chile. The tanker’s presence in California is a testament to the seriousness of these fires.

“If you’re house were on fire, would you call the fire department and ask them to send me the slowest, smallest fire truck you’ve got?” said Jim Wheeler, CEO of Global SuperTanker Services, in an interview with the San Bernardino Sun. “This is a force multiplier for the fire departments because there’s nothing else out there like it.”

Capable of depositing 20,000 gallons of fire retardant in a single flight, the aircraft has so far made six flights — each lasting 31 to 47 minutes — from Sacramento to affected areas. Below is footage of one of these runs.