Fresno air attack crews struggling to keep up with multiple wildfires across Valley

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The planes and choppers used to fight wildfires have been a constant presence in the sky lately, and their crews say they've been working from "dark to dark." (KFSN)

The number of local wildfires in the mountains has put a strain on firefighting resources.

The planes and choppers used to fight wildfires have been a constant presence in the sky lately. But many were grounded for a few hours Monday morning.

They had to wait until the smoke cleared in some areas so they could target their drops. Many of the aircraft used to battle the Railroad, Mission and two other local wildfires load up on fire retardant at the Fresno air attack base. Crews haven't had much of a break.

"The tankers are constantly being rerouted throughout the day depending on the needs of the fire at a certain time," John with the Forest Service said.

Three U.S. Air Force C130's assigned to Air National Guard units have been used in Afghanistan but right now they're helping put out wildfires.

"We've had multiple start-ups within the last few days, as well as those that have been around for the last week, have started to grow and lose a little bit of containment," Maj. Erik Brown said.

Brown has made 20 drops in the past two and a half days. He showed us the MAFs unit or Modular Airborne Firefighting system which can hold 3,000 gallons of retardant.

The pintle valve releases the retardant and crews know immediately if the drop has been successful.

"Direct feedback from the lead aircraft as well as us seeing it from the front and the back 150 feet off the vegetation, 300 feet above the ground," he explained.

The Fresno Air Attack base has been so busy this fire season it has produced and used over one million gallons of fire retardant.

"I say we work dark to dark," Harpain said.

Retardant drops resumed this afternoon when the smoke cleared enough to determine specific targeted areas.

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