Calls are growing louder by the day to bring the Martin Mars water bomber into action against British Columbia’s raging forest fires. Despite the province’s previous claims that the bomber is too old and inefficient, Alberni residents say it’s time to enlist its help. Skye Ryan reports.
So iconic is the Hawaii Mars, that even on shore, the historic water bomber draws crowds. Despite being out of firefighting for years, it still holds a spell among tourists and locals alike in the Alberni Valley.
“They’re really a workhorse you know what I mean,” Port Alberni resident Clayton Whiteman said.
“Every time it flies over you can hear that roar of engines and everyone’s hollering and screaming it sounds really impressive.”
So as fires burn out of control in B.C.’s Interior Alberni residents are urging the province to task the Coulson plane, that’s now on blocks at Sproat Lake. It’s been without a firefighting contract with B.C. for two years now. The province’s reasoning is the plane is too old and inefficient for current firefighting methods.
“It should be out there working with the fires that they got right now burning,” Port Alberni resident Kay Mcleod said. “God forbid we have some here. We don’t have any protection with those planes sitting.”
On Saturda6y, Wayne Coulson offered up the Mars and additional Coulson firefighting helicopters to the province that includes crew with night vision firefighting capabilities, but he has yet to hear back.
“You know it’s up to government right,” Wayne Coulson of Coulson Flying Tankers said. “They’re the cook in the kitchen and they’re the ones that are entrusted to protect us and it’s really their call.”
Work has started on the Mars to get it airworthy, but Coulson says it would be mid-August before it would be ready to fly.