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Fighting forest fires: Quebec spends $42M to upgrade water bombers
A Bombardier CL-415 firefighting aircraft, also known as “Super Scooper” airplane ,makes a drop on a wildfire in the San Gabriel Mountains in Azusa, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
QUEBEC -- The Quebec government is spending $42 million to upgrade eight water bombers to help put out forest fires.
Forests, Wildlife and Parks Minister Pierre Dufour, who represents the rural region of Abitibi-Est made the announcement Tuesday on behalf of Transport Minister François Bonnardel.
Known as the "Super Scooper," the CL-415 amphibious aircraft will be part of the Quebec Government Air Services (SAG) and available to the province's forest fire protection agency SOPFEU.
The SAG has a fleet of 14 tankers, including six CL-215s and eight CL-415s.
"The CL-415 is a high-performance tanker that allows for a quick and sustained initial attack on forest fires. Their modernization will, therefore, ensure the maintenance of forest fire fighting services and extend their operations beyond the next 25 years," said Bonnardel in a statement.
Viking Air Ltd. will carry out the modernization of the CL-415s, mainly by replacing the electrical and electronic navigation equipment. Delivery of the last upgraded CL-415 is scheduled for 2024, but the upgrades will not create any service interruptions in the fight against forest fires in the meantime.
"The modernization of CL-415 tankers is excellent news. This will enable us to maintain our ability to protect our natural resources, resources essential for the economic development of our province, as well as contribute to the protection of forest communities in support of civil security," added Dufour.
According to SOPFEU, there is an average of 460 forest fires every year in Quebec.