The campaign, known as Operation – Save the Tahoe Basin, would enable the acquisition of two firefighting helicopters and the creation of a permanent helicopter base to house them.
The aircraft would provide firefighting and search and rescue (SAR) services across the whole Lake Tahoe and the Sierra region, in both Nevada and California.
TDFPD say that the firefighting aircraft would offer 24/7, year-round services, providing:
- The capability of dropping 1,000 gallons (3785 liters) of water on a fire
- The capability to drop a Helitack crew on the ground for fire suppression
- An onboard paramedic with full advanced life support equipment
- Night flying capabilities
- A hoist.
Currently, there are no firefighting or rescue helicopters stationed in the region on a permanent basis, despite the region’s vulnerability to wildfires – a situation that was highlighted by the extent of the Caldor fire in 2021, a 221,835-acre blaze which burned eastward from California and which was narrowly prevented from entering the Lake Tahoe basin by an extensive firefighting effort.
On their website, TDFPD said that by implementing the service, ‘we could dramatically increase our ability to save lives, properties, infrastructure, wildlife, and the national treasure that is Lake Tahoe’.