IRWINDALE ( — The Los Angeles County Fire Department’s water dropping helicopters worked non-stop to put out the flames burning near Duarte and Azusa. Their best and biggest weapon was their Firehawks known for their power, speed and water capacity.

“We can hover over a body of water, and then we have a snorkel that retracts down below the aircraft and pumps the water into the tank which is a 1,000 gallon tank. And we can do that in about 45 seconds,” said L.A. County Fire Department’s Air Operations Crew Chief Mike Dubron.

When it’s time to reload with water, the pilot presses a button to lower a nozzle into the lake or reservoir. After the water is drawn, he pushes the button again to retract the nozzle. Then the pilot heads to the fire. Once he’s there, he pushes the drop button to douse the flames.

Senior pilot Eric Pacheco said, “It’s incredibly effective. It’s a pinpoint accuracy, and it allows us to deliver a large water source of volume.

“What we’re doing is manipulating the controls as well as running the systems on the aircraft via these buttons.”

The helicopters coordinate attacks with the DC-10s that drop retardant on the flames.

Read more and see the video at


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