One-month deal revives Martin Mars water bomber

A one-month agreement to bring the Martin Mars water bomber out of retirement has been reached, the province said Wednesday.

The airtanker could begin fighting the Dog Mountain forest fire by this weekend, Steve Thomson, minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations said in a statement.

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“Given the extraordinary fire situation this year, and recognizing that public safety is paramount, we need to look at every possible tool in our toolbox,” Thomson said.

The Martin Mars has not fought forest fires for two years and will require maintenance before it is safe to fly. The Coulson Group, which owns the Port Alberni-based aircraft, is preparing it for service.

The airtanker will be stationed at Sproat Lake. Due to its size, it can land on and scoop up water only from about 113 water bodies in B.C., in contrast to the 1,700 water bodies that the province’s amphibious scoopers can access, Thomson said.

Details of the water bomber contract will be released today, the government said.

The Dog Mountain forest fire is the largest on Vancouver Island. It is spreading along a steep slope by Sproat Lake, near Port Alberni.

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