Ross Donahue, manager of the South Cariboo Regional Airport, fuels up one of the helicopters used to fight wildfires in the region. (Kelly Sinoski photo - 100 Mile Free Press).

Airport kept busy during wildfires

More than 77,000 litres of fuel used between July 1-10

The South Cariboo Regional Airport is buzzing these days as one of the main fueling stations during the wildfires.

Manager Ross Donahue said he’s been kept hopping from dawn to dusk managing the 108 Mile site and refueling air tankers to ensure they’re ready to respond to the growing number of fires across the region.

As of Tuesday, there were 14 helicopters and pilots staying at the airport, run by the Cariboo Regional District. Each has its own parking site, allowing the pilots to tend and maintain their machines overnight. A briefing is held every morning before the pilots are sent out on various shifts throughout the day and evening.

Donahue estimates that between July 1-10, the airport had already gone through 77,000 litres of fuel. Most helicopters take between 250 litres to 1,000 litres to fill up, he noted, while the Sky Crane – the big orange helicopter – is self-sufficient with its own fuel trucks as it can use up to 22,000 litres per day when working a fire.

Donahue, who took over as manager late last year, admits he was a bit overwhelmed at first.

“We’re keeping up with everything,” he said. “I’ve got a fuel company and I’m talking to them every day. We haven’t run out yet and he keeps us topped up.

“That’s what’s keeping me hopping right now. We’re just trying to keep everybody going. The helicopter guys are great, their crews are great. They’re working really hard.”

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100 Mile HouseB.C. Wildfires 2021Cariboo Regional District