Air tanker training with the U.S. Forest Service

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A blaze can break out at any time during wildfire season, and it's important for our agencies to be prepared.

On Tuesday multiple agencies reviewed what an air tanker base is, how it functions, and how to load one.

An air tanker is an airplane that can hold thousands of gallons of flame retardant or water, and the Forest Service can drop the retardant to help slow down the spread of wildfires.

"We have to mix the chemicals that we put on these airplanes and function with them within the rules and regulations as stated to be safe and to expedite them getting to the fires as best we can," Gordon Schafer said, Air Tanker Base Manager, Black Hills National Forest.

"It feels good. In my way, I'm supporting the fire operations and just one piece in the large organization that we have in firefighting," Gale Gire said, Timber & Silviculture Staff, Black Hills National Forest.

Schafer says the Forest Service is already using air tankers for the large wildfires burning in Colorado and New Mexico right now.