Alaskan firefighters were able to stop the spread of the Elmore fire on the east side of Anchorage Thursday across 13 acres before it spread to structures. It was reported at 5 p.m. in the Campbell Track area near the intersection of Dowling and Elmore Roads.
Staff from the Pioneer Interagency Hotshot Crew, Palmer Forestry, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, the Anchorage Fire Department, and the Alaska Division of Forestry (DOF) responded. A group of Canadian firefighters in the area with DOF through the use of the Northwest Compact was also on site.
Firefighters were aided by a DOF helicopter and two fixed-wing air carriers operated by Conair, the Q400 and Convair 580. The Q400, Tanker 540, shown above.
The Ministry of Finance has entered into a contract with Conair for the supply of two Convair 580 air tankers, but the company has the option to replace one of its Q400 tankers with 580 tankers at the same price. One carrier is usually based in Palmer and the other in Fairbanks.
In 2021, Conair purchased 11 Q400s from Flybe Airlines. The first was delivered at Conair’s facilities in Abbotsford, British Columbia, February 21, 2021. After conversion into air carriers, called A400ATs (Air Tanker), they will eventually replace the L-188 and CV-580 currently operated by Conair. The presentation of the Q400 in Alaska could increase knowledge of the carrier among potential Conair customers.
The repurposed Q400s are capable of holding up to 2,640 gallons of damper. CV-580s were produced between 1947 and 1954 and can carry up to 2,100 gallons. The Q400 cruises about 50 mph faster than the CV-580.
Prior to purchasing 11 Q400’s from Flybe, Conair had two A400ATs in operation in its fleet that in 2021 were used for the first time in the fire season in North America, including Alaska. They also had one contract in Australia during the 2020-2021 bushfire season.
In 2017, the Conair Group secured a deal to sell six Q400MR (multi-role) air carriers to France’s Securite Civile (Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Preparedness). These were new planes purchased by Conair from Bombardier that could be reconfigured in a few hours to carry passengers, hence the multi-role name. The new aircraft replace the old French S-2 air carriers.