Fire crews give CBS 5 look at helicopter coordination center - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fire crews give CBS 5 look at helicopter coordination center

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PRESCOTT, AZ (CBS5) -

The air tankers initially fighting this fire have been diverted to New Mexico. But that's not necessarily a bad thing because at this stage, what's needed most are the helicopters that make more precise drops of water.

"Many of us came in from Santa Fe, New Mexico and other places," said helibase Manager Chuck Turner. The helicopters are national assets, so they, too, can be diverted at any point if there's a greater need outside Prescott. And it's a long day for pilots.

"Each day we come on at 7 a.m., we are ready to fly at about 8 in the morning," Turner said. "We start doing reconnaissance so they can get a view of the fire."

The pilots of these helicopters deal with a lot of dangerous conditions. They've got the smoke and dust to contend with, plus the winds. Meanwhile, crews on the ground have their own set of issues.

"For those guys it's the long days. the long days and the heat, the wind and the 14-day cycle. that's the hard part," said Wade Ward with the Prescott Fire Department. He said it's the hard work of these crews that keep flames from reaching homes. Several homes were spared just yards away from charred trees.

And though crews are working around the clock, they're still not in the clear, and people will not be allowed to go back home just yet.

"I really don't want to go through populating, repopulating, populating. The stress that causes to those residents is not worth it. I've had those experiences before," said Incident Commander Tony Sciacca.

This weekend crews will be working on keeping their containment lines strong and closing in on the fire. There will be another press briefing Saturday afternoon, but there likely won't be another community meeting until Sunday or Monday.

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