Cal Fire YouTube Clip Shows Power of Fire Retardant Drop

In the video, conducted in a controlled environment as a demonstration shows the damage a "low drop" can do

A fire retardant drop from a Cal Fire aircraft can be beautiful when you see it in person however, it can be very dangerous to people and vehicles on the ground.

The red substance cascading down to the ground from an airplane may appear like a cloud of smoke but a video posted Friday by Cal Fire shows how dangerous it can be. 

In the video, an SUV was struck with 9,000 pounds of fire retardant from an S-2 aircraft demonstrating what's called a "low drop." 

The SUV roof and trunk are collapsed by the weight of the retardant. 

Cal Fire officials posted the video to remind residents that if they find themselves or their vehicles in a fire zone where there may be Large Airtankers (LATs) or Very Large Airtankers (VLATs), they should be aware of their surroundings.

Firefighters are advised to stay an additional 50 feet beyond the boundaries set for both types of aircraft because there are a number of variables that could change the height of the drop including terrain and wind speed.  

An LAT can cover an area 95 feet wide while a VLAT can cover an area of 130 feet wide.

"When we start to place LAT and VLATs into the picture, those folks on the ground need to be very, very aware of their surroundings and the risk that is involved with having helicopters and fixed wing aircraft assigned to the fire," said Battalion Chief Justin McGough. 

VLATS can drop up to 170,000 pounds of retardant or the weight of six fire engines.

See the complete video at this link. 

Contact Us