As summer drags on, a familiar scene plays out almost every day somewhere in Texas: Dry brush ignites and flames race across fields and hillsides, sometimes destroying homes. Wildfires fueled by extreme drought and triple-digit heat have left a scorching mark, burning more than 625,000 acres so far this year statewide.
Most days, the roar of engines on a red-stained ramp in West Texas signals the start of a new fight against the flames. The Abilene Regional Airport serves as the launch pad for one of the Texas A&M Forest Service’s air tanker bases.
“We’ve flown the most retardant out of Abilene, more retardant here than anywhere else in the country at this point,” said Mike Pedersen, the man in charge of the base.
Pedersen invited NBC 5 to tag along and see the fast-moving operation that launches aerial attacks in Texas and surrounding states like Oklahoma and Louisiana.
“It’s like a pitstop, NASCAR,” Pedersen explained. “We just get them and load them. Get them on their way.”
Read more on this story at NBC DFW