The province has entered into a one month agreement to use the Martin Mars waterbomber, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson said.
“Today (July 8), I’m pleased to announce that we’re entering into a one-month agreement to use the Martin Mars airtanker,” said Thomson.
The iconic Martin Mars may begin firefighting operations as early as this weekend, Minister Thomson said.
“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,” said Minister Thomson.
He did caution that the Mars is limited in what it can do.
“The Mars is not suitable for steep terrain. We will only use it in situations where it is safe to do so,” Minister Thomson said.
“The airtanker will be stationed at Sproat Lake – due to its size the Martin Mars can only land on and scoop up water from about 113 water bodies in B.C. as opposed to the 1,700 water bodies that our amphibious scoopers can access.”
The News is waiting on a response from the MFLNRO regarding usage of the Martin Mars on Dog Mountain.
There are also the mechanical preparations.
“The Martin Mars has not been used to fight forest fires for the past two years, and given it is ‘coming out of retirement’ we need to ensure that it is safe to fly,” Minister Thomson said. Pilot certification must also be up to date, he added.
“We expect we may be in a position to use the airtanker by this weekend.”
A call for comment to CEO Wayne Coulson has not yet been returned. Speaking earlier on July 8, Coulson said that flight preparations would be taking place that day and that the Mars would hopefully be performing test flights by 7 p.m.