SDG&E brings back skycrane to help fight wildfires - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

SDG&E brings back skycrane to help fight wildfires

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - SDG&E unveiled Thursday heavy arsenal to help attack wildfires in San Diego County.

SDG&E announced the return of the Erickson Air Crane at the High Performance Aircraft Hangar at Gillespie Field Thursday morning. The aircraft returns to San Diego County for its sixth consecutive year.

The heli-tanker can drop 500 to 2,500 gallons of water at a time, while the pilots maneuver with precision. And, experts report that the Erickson Air Crane is five times faster than a regular helicopter, making it a crucial piece of equipment given the heightened danger of fires due to the dry, hot weather and the severe drought

To pay for flight hours, The County of San Diego set aside $150,000 and SDG&E matched those funds. The Erickson Air Crane arrived August 1 is on standby through November. 

Cal Fire and other fire crews have been rotating manpower for a whole month. That's why the Erickson Air Crane is vital in fire fights, because it can be a first line of defense.

"The Sky Crane is a great tool. It can can be ready in 15 to 20 minutes to fight wildfires in our community,” said SDG&E Chief Energy Delivery Officer, Caroline Winn.

SDG&E, Cal Fire and San Diego County leaders were on hand Thursday to show off this sophisticated piece of equipment.

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