The Hawaii Mars rests in the middle of Sproat Lake following a rigorous firefighting assignment in Fort McMurray

Martin Mars waterbomber returns to Sproat Lake

The Hawaii Mars waterbomber returned to Sproat Lake on Sunday, its crew announcing their arrival with a characteristic fly-by over Port Alberni before landing.

The Hawaii Mars waterbomber returned to Sproat Lake on Sunday, its crew announcing their arrival with a characteristic fly-by over Port Alberni before landing.

The aircraft had been in Fort McMurray, Alta., fighting fires north of the city since early June.

“We’re back here on stand-by for B.C.,” chief operating officer Jim Messer said. “We’re currently on some ‘green days’; crew catch-up and some minor maintenance.”

The aircraft is under contract by the government of B.C. until the end of August, and will stay in the province as the fire season heats up here unless it is called to go elsewhere.

Messer said Coulson Flying Tankers, which owns the waterbomber and its mate, the Philippine Mars, is open to contracts elsewhere on the continent. While fires are burning in Arizona, New Mexico and California, no one has contacted the company yet.

The Hawaii Mars has already seen more work this year than it did last year, Messer said. The aircraft flew approximately 130 hours in Mexico and is already at about 30 hours thanks to the Fort McMurray mission. Last year on its B.C. contract the Hawaii Mars flew about 50 hours.

Still, it’s not enough hours to warrant putting the Philippine Mars in the water—yet.

“There’s still not a business model,” Messer said. Ideally, Coulson would like to have a permanent contract for one of its aircraft, much as it had in California a couple of years ago. Then the Philippine Mars would take over as the “call when needed” waterbomber.

Although the Philippine Mars is up on land, “It can be made viable quickly,” Messer said.

“But we haven’t had that opportunity yet.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

By-election set for Beaufort and Cherry Creek areas

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District by-election will take place Apr. 6

ARTS AROUND: Port Alberni artists showcase a range of mediums

“Into the Forest” will feature everything from watercolours to quilting

Divers explore the deeps of Sproat Lake using vintage equipment

Heritage Hard Hat Divers will have a maritime heritage exhibit in Port Alberni

EDITORIAL: In face of tough week, Port Alberni first responders deserve our respect

Last week was a difficult week for first responders in the Alberni Valley…

Alberni group focuses on stigmatization as biggest barrier to opioid crisis

Community session planned to raise dialogue on opioid crisis response

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

B.C. hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of Victoria General Hospital says case of retired veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

‘Dr. Lipjob’ avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

LETTER: Seniors home care, day programs expanding, Adrian Dix says

B.C. health minister responds to latest Seniors Advocate report

B.C. woman wins Instagram celebrity’s boob job contest

‘Kirill was here’ held a contest for women to win a boob job and a trip to Miami

Most Read