SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Global SuperTanker Service’s Boeing 747-400 has been activated to fight a California wildfire, marking its first use in the United States.

The company says the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection exercised a call-when-needed contract Wednesday to fight a fire in Butte County about 10 miles east of Lake Oroville. At the time, the SuperTanker was at McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento.

The company says it made two individual drops of 8,500 gallons of fire retardant that evening.

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(credit: CBS)

The aircraft can carry 19,000 gallons of water or retardant and is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

That’s almost twice as much fire retardant as any other air tanker in service.

“We’re the very largest in the world — there’s nobody out there that comes close,” Global SuperTanker Service President and CEO Jim Wheeler told CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann in a July interview.

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(credit: CBS)

“We can drop a line of retardant about three kilometers long or, if you will, about a mile-and-a-half,” Wheeler said.

Another big air tanker long a familiar sight over wildfires is a three-engine DC-10 flown by 10 Tanker Air Carrier of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It can carry up to 11,600 gallons.

The plane was grounded, but in July the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Interagency Airtanker Board issued a 17-month interim approval for the aircraft.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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