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Shortage of Fire Planes Leaves Idaho Vulnerable

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BOISE, Idaho (KTVB) — We are on the doorstep of fire season but the U.S. Forest Service says right now they do not have enough of a key piece of firefighting equipment.

Firefighters say air tankers are very important in suppressing large wildfires, especially in the initial attack. They drop fire retardant to slow the fire down and make it less intense. But right now there are a lot fewer available. So few, that last year a quarter of all requests for air tankers were turned down or got canceled.

In 2012, half of all orders went unfilled. A decade ago, the Forest Service had around 40 air tankers available at any time nationwide. Last year they had just nine available at any time. While they hope to have 17 available by June, right now they just 10 tankers ready to fly.

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