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US SuperTanker plane, used to fight Israel’s 2016 fires, shut down by investors

Group that owns world’s largest firefighting aircraft tells US government it is stopping operations of the converted 747

The 747 Supertanker helps to extinguish a forest fire which broke out near Nataf, outside Jerusalem on November 26, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
The 747 Supertanker helps to extinguish a forest fire which broke out near Nataf, outside Jerusalem on November 26, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

DENVER (AP) — The world’s largest firefighting plane has been shut down just as Western US states prepare for a wildfire season that fire officials fear could be worse than the average year.

Tara Lee, a spokeswoman for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, said via email Friday that the state’s Department of Natural Resources was alerted to the shutdown of the world’s largest firefighting plane called the Global SuperTanker. Representatives from that department didn’t immediately respond to questions about how that move could affect the state’s firefighting efforts.

The decision to cease the SuperTanker’s operations was first reported by Fire Aviation, an industry website that reported an email was sent this week to officials in Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the US government saying that the investor group that owns the plane was shutting it down.

A spokesman for company that operates the plane, Global SuperTanker Services LLC, declined to comment Friday.

The 747 Supertanker helps to extinguish a forest fire near Nataf, outside Jerusalem on November 26, 2016 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Global SuperTanker is a converted Boeing 747 plane that can dump up to 19,200 gallons (72,678 liters) of water or flame retardant in just six seconds and fly as low as 200 feet (61 meters) above the ground to do its work.

It can be refilled in just 13 minutes.

The SuperTanker has helped in many Western wildfires and was deployed in Israel in 2016 and in Chile in 2017. Costs can run as much as $250,000 a day.

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