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Print | Porterville Thanks the U.S. Forestry Crews and Mr. Contreras
Post News Articles - Sept 13 2008
by Post Editor : editor@portervillepost.com

Click to Enlarge PORTERVILLE, CA. - Saturday the Post had a chance to interview Air-Base Manager Raul Contreras, who’s been with the U.S. Forestry Service for 26 years and today he was manning the air traffic control tower at Porterville’s Air Base – in the northeast sector of the Porterville Air Port.

This fire season has been one of the worst on record and if it wasn’t for the dedicated men and women who work at Porterville’s Air Base, they’d still be burning. It’s understood by many who work for the U.S. Forestry Service, that they could be called at any time and work for many hours and at great peril. All too often this goes without saying and all too often goes with delayed compensation.

Asked why Mr. Contreras enter this type of profession, “I always liked the idea of working around fires so I went to college and got a degree in forestry and soon after I was offered a job in Mendocino, Northern California. Eventually I moved back to this area to be closer with my family and have been here ever since. For a few years I worked in the Tule River District {in the Sequoia’s} before I came back to Porterville in 2001 to help out at the air-base, and thereafter I got moved into the air-base.”

Thank You Porterville Air Base, U.S. Forestry Service Pilots and Ground Crews
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“Today, Mr. Contreras explained, we’re working on the “Hidden Fire” in the National Park, in Kings Canyon. Currently working out of this air base we have what’s called S-2’s, which hold 1,200 gallons of fire retardant, P-3’s which hold 2,500 gallons, P-2’s which hold 2,080 gallons, and a Single Engine Tanker “SET”, which holds 800 gallons of fire retardant and has been stationed here all summer.”

A few of biggest fires they’ve worked on this year include the “Clover Fire” and the “Piute Fire”, being the biggest according to Mr. Contreras. Of course … “we’ve worked on a lot of small fires in and around the reservation … local Yokel Valley and a few more.”

Even though the Governor declared California in a state of emergency and requested additional outside help and federal funding, Porterville Air Base received none. “If we did get some, it’s somewhere else,” stated Mr. Contreras.

Porterville Air Base was established in 1958 – 50 years ago and is one of many positioned across California. Originally these air bases were established around a “30 Minute Flight Time”, so the old brown motor planes in Fresno could make it to every air base - which are 30 minutes apart. As Mr. Contreras shared, “It’s the 4th base that’s been constructed here at the Porterville Air Port.”

“Many of the pilots we have can’t even look at flying these planes unless they have hundreds of hours of flight time registered. What the pilots do is a risky job and even though their trained very well, we’ve lost some good ones over the years.”

From the Post, we say thanks and pray that all of our pilots return safely and that all of our engineers and grounds folks are guided and protected by our Lord and Savior : JESUS CHRIST.

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