A Salmon Arm photographer has given an insider’s view of the Martin Mars Water Bomber debate.
Jodie Lemke, owner of Jodie Lynn Photography, updated her Facebook status on Wednesday, creating a post that has since gone viral. However, Lemke says the post wasn’t written by her, but rather by an anonymous fire-fighting helicopter pilot.
“For everyone who is sharing and commenting on the Media article about the Martin Mars Please stop!!!” The post begins. “I am just one of hundreds flying on these fires and fighting them for a living. The reason why the Mars is not on the fires is because we have equipment that does a faster more efficient job from smaller lakes which can put more water on a fire per hour.”
People have been calling for the provincial government to utilize the Martin Mars Water Bomber in the fight against BC’s wildfires since the plane’s owner, Wayne Coulson, revealed that he’d offered up its services last week.
However, according to the anonymous pilot, the one-of-a-kind water bomber’s actual effectiveness is doubtful.
“Water doesn’t put out a fire, the crews do,” the anonymous pilot wrote. “Large aircraft such as what you have read about in this article take crews off the fire lines, sit helicopters on the ground for hours and stop precious production and critical gains,” the pilot wrote. “[The Bomber’s] water comes out at a force which sends embers out and start spot fires.”
“[The water bombing method] loosens ground, blows over trees creating hazards and ruins guards put in by crews. For everyone out there please get these ideas out of your heads and realize there is a reason why we don’t use these planes.”
But the pilot’s concerns didn’t end there. He also addressed the possibility of nighttime operations, such as those Coulson had said would be possible with other aircraft he’ said made available.
“As for the night ops, this is a great idea in California or in the desert where at night you have long string drops and easy terrain but in BC it doesn’t work that way,” the pilot wrote.
“There are night crews working and they don’t need any more dangers.[sic]”
Lastly, the pilot called out the behaviour of people on social media.
“It is an insult to all of us who are working 18 hours days with no food and no place to sleep while we try to save people’s houses and animals and you sit at home telling us what is best. There is so much more to it then just putting water on a fire otherwise don’t you think we would do just that!! Please educate yourselves before posting about this topic and or sharing with others as it is not needed. Look at the photo, no plane can fly in that smoke and heat and no water will put out a kilometer wide, 200 foot wall of fire.”