'Super Scoopers' Land in L.A. as Wildfire Season Begins

Sept. 04--A pair of "super scooper" water-dropping aircraft have arrived in L.A. County as wildfire season officially begins amid a protracted drought that has left California particularly vulnerable.

Already, firefighters in Central and Northern California have seen their share of wildfires, many sparked by lightning in tinder-dry forests. During that time, however, Southern California has escaped relatively unscathed from any major blaze.

From now until the rainy season begins, the super scoopers -- capable of dropping more than 1,600 gallons of water -- and an Erickson Air-Crane helitanker will be automatically deployed on all first-alarm brush fire responses, officials said.

The aircraft arrived Van Nuys Airport on Wednesday. They join the L.A. County Fire Department's own fleet of nine helicopters.

The super scooper and the Erickson helitanker provide the aerial might we need to knock down brush fires before they grow large and out of control, especially in Santa Ana wind conditions," Fire Chief Daryl Osby said in a statement.

The state's largest active wildfire remains on the California-Oregon border and continues to grow after having scorched nearly 76,960 acres.

The Happy Camp Complex fire, which is 19% contained, has cost $44.7 million to fight, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Mandatory evacuations that had been issued in some Siskiyou County communities were downgraded to advisories overnight as water drops from helicopters helped reduce the spread of the fire.

More than 2,800 firefighters are assigned to the blaze, according to the Forest Service.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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