Just as the Southern California fire season is about to begin, the state budget axe has apparently fallen on the DC 10 Super Tanker, that serves at the biggest, if not always the best, firefighting tool available in the region.
Calfire says the contract to keep the DC 10 and a backup on call appears to be dead.
When the converted American Airlines jet is called into use, it carries nearly 12,000 gallons of fire retardant. That's more than any other tanker available in the U.S.
But "Big Red" as some firefighters call it also costs $7 million every fire season. That hefty cost caused the program to fall out of favor two years ago, but it was reinstated because of public and firefighter complaints from firefighters and the public.
Calfire says the converted jetliner may still be available on a day to day basis, at least for now.