Fire Fighting Hueys in South Africa

Something a little unusual but very interesting.  Regular South African based member Tony Dill has only retired and moved home from Port Elizabth to Cape Town about a month ago.  A Bush Fire close to his new home (not the kind of welcome to any new home that you might wish for!) had him don the hat of 'intrepid photo reporter' and go off to investigate these Bell Hueys in action, fighting that Bush Fire.  Thanks to Tony for being good enough to forward the photos and the background story in to us here.

This is a set of photos of the Non Goverment Organization, called Working On Fire, battling a mountain fire on the slopes of the mountain just above my home here in Fish Hoek, a suburb of Cape Town. The blaze started on the southern slopes and was at time fanned and driven on by gale-force South Easterly winds which are prevalent at this time of the year. Summer is referred to as the 'fire season', and this blaze was actually regarded as being early in the season.  After the fire it was determined that it was caused by arson.

Some interesting facts are that the Hueys are mostly F models although there is one B as well.  The Bambi Bucket holds one and a half tons of water per trip and only dam or lake water is used, (ie fresh water) as salt water from the sea, would turns the ground completely infertile and not permit vegetation to grow ever again.

The Hueys cost R20000 per hour to operate, and in this sort of intense flying situation have an endurance of 2.5 hours.  When deployed they are accompanied by 2 tankers.

This particular fire raged over 3 days, and although no houses were damaged at times, the blaze came extremely close but thanks to the stunning professionalism of these men, disaster was averted.

Tony Dill