San Diego Gas & Electric on Thursday said it had renewed agreements with the city and county of San Diego to help pay for a heavy-duty helicopter capable of carrying more than 2,500 gallons of water to support local fire departments through November.
This is the sixth year SDG&E partnered with the City of San Diego and San Diego County to make the Erickson Skycrane helitanker available for firefighting. The energy company will match the $150,000 put aside by the county to fund the Skycrane’s initial flight hours, SDG&E said.
While the city and county have an emergency response fleet of four helicopters, they can only carry 375 gallons of water each.
"With the ongoing drought, and the rash of wildfires burning in California right now, having the helitanker available provides an extra measure of 'fire insurance' for the entire region," Cal Fire Chief Tony Mecham said.
SDG&E paid more than $2 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits after some of its power lines sparked fires during the 2007 firestorms. SDG&E did not admit liability and said the fires were acts of God.