World's biggest fire-fighting plane joins fight to contain Carmel blaze
'Evergreen' Boeing 747 Super Tanker releases over 40 tons of fire-extinguishing material; IAF official says fire sources on the ground have decreased.
The American supertanker, the "Evergreen" Boeing 747 Super Tanker, took to the skies Sunday over the wildfire that has blazed in northern Israel for more than three days, killing 42 people and scorching 10,000 acres of forests, homes and farmland.
The supertanker carried out two rounds so far, releasing over 40 tons of fire-extinguishing material. Israeli pilots were on board the flight, coordinating the operation.
Israel Air Force Base Nevatim commander told Haaretz that after three days of intensive work by firefighting forces, progress is seen in the Carmel region.
"We now observe mostly smoke on the ground, with fewer sources of fire," the commander said.
The plane, which arrived in the early hours of Sunday morning after U.S. President Barack Obama promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu American help in fighting the huge blaze, can carry up to 95,000 liters of water.
On Sunday, it lifted off bearing 80,000 liters of water and retardant, said a statement from the government. The plane's American crew was accompanied on its flight by two Israel Air Force pilots and the commander of the Nevatim Air Force Base, Brigadier-General Eden Attias.
Prior to the arrival of the supertanker, the largest fire-fighting aircraft was sent by Russia. The Russian plane touched down in Israel on Saturday morning, and immediately joined the efforts to douse the wildfire. The plane, the Ilyushin-76, can hold 42,000 liters of water in two containers that can jettison their loads, individually or simultaneously, within seven seconds. It is, however, a lengthy process to both fill the water tanks and refuel, requiring some 45 minutes to an hour each time.