Copter will be available to battle Tahoe wildfires |

Copter will be available to battle Tahoe wildfires

Robert Hudson / Provided to the Tribune The Tahoe Basin is getting the services of a firefighting helicopter.

Nevada firefighters have a new weapon at their disposal in the fight against catastrophic wildfire in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The Nevada Division of Forestry – in conjunction with the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District and the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District – has announced plans for a helicopter to spend more time in the basin.

“Although the helicopter will be based in Minden, this opportunity will allow the helicopter to spend significant time in the Tahoe Basin, ready for immediate response,” Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District Chief Guy LeFever said in a statement.

A quick response is especially needed on red-flag days when weather conditions make the basin more susceptible to a wildfire spreading out of control, LeFever said.

The helicopter’s capabilities include both dropping water and delivering hand crews quickly to remote areas.

It will be available as an initial-attack firefighting aircraft to areas as far away as Truckee and will be a tremendous asset to the fire districts, LeFever said.

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Zephyr Fire Crew Supervisor Keegan Schafer is equally enthusiastic about the helicopter’s benefits.

“After the initial training, we will be able to save precious time getting to the area of the fire, keeping small fires from turning into disasters,” Schafer said in the statement, noting the helicopter also will be invaluable in dropping water on fire areas where hand crews cannot safely operate.

The Tahoe Douglas Zephyr Fire Crew began training on the helicopter Saturday and will continue throughout the fire season.

Initial plans call for the aircraft to spend two days a week in each fire district while air-operations training is conducted.

“The cooperation and level of commitment with our agencies to keep the Lake Tahoe Basin as safe as possible during the fire season is commendable. We appreciate the mutual efforts by all,” North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District Fire Chief Mike Brown said in the statement.