World's Largest Fire Fighting Plane to Join Bid to Halt Carmel Inferno

Evergeen Supertanker will arrive in the coming days, has been used to contain fires in California.

The largest fire fighting aircraft in the world will arrive in Israel in the coming days to join the fight to control the devastating wildfire that has been raging in the Carmel since Thursday, according to reports in the United States on Saturday.

The plane, a specially equipped 747, is operated by Evergreen, a private American aviation company.

Carmel fire - Tal Cohen - 3.12.2010
Tal Cohen

The Evergreen Supertanker has been used in the past year to extinguish massive blazes in California. It can hold 95,000 liters of water, more than twice that of the Russian plane which has been dispatched by Moscow to Israel.

The Russian plane touched down in Israel on Saturday morning, at the Tel Nof airbase, and immediately joined the efforts to douse the wildfire. The plane, the Ilyushin-76, is now the largest plane taking part in the fire fighting efforts. It 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.

President Barack Obama discussed the deadly fire with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, during a telephone call from Air Force One as the president returned home from a surprise trip to Afghanistan.

The U.S. is sending a team of expert firefighters and supplies to Israel to help the country contain the worst forest fire in its history, Obama administration officials said Friday.