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Photo by Dogboy

A small story about the USDA Forest Service rebranding Woodsy the Owl led me on a tortuous train of thought that ended with the question "What happened to the DC-10 Firefighting Supertanker? "

The modified DC-10 carries 12,000 gallons of water, which is about 10 times more than most tankers. But the Supertanker couldn't meet the US Forest Service’s regulations for firefighting planes, and was never authorized for use on Federal Land. The story took a turn last July, when the California Department of Forestry (with it's own regulations) contracted the Supertanker on a "call when needed" basis, while fighting the 62,000 acre Sawtooth blaze in San Bernardino County. The results were impressive enough that over the course of the year, it dropped some 320,000 gallons of water and flame retardant.