The aircraft are owned by the Province of Quebec and are brought in for the Santa Ana east wind season, which typically begins in the fall. Strong, dry, hot winds can lead to large fires in the densely populated areas of southern California.
The scoopers can load up to 1,600 gallons of water while skimming across the surface of a lake. If the water source is within ten miles, typically working in pairs they can drop a great deal of water on a fire. Initial deployment typically lasts for approximately 90 days but may be extended if a need for their assistance continues.
This year, in a program paid for by Southern California Edison, three counties will each have an additional large helicopter. Los Angeles and Orange Counties will have 3,000-gallon Boeing CH-47D Chinooks, and Ventura County will get a 1,000-gallon S-61.