May 16, 2013 - By Mead Gruver, The Associated PressCHEYENNE -- A California company that operates two large, jet-powered air tankers for fighting wildfires is moving from California to Wyoming.
Victorville, Calif.-based 10 Tanker Air Carrier operates two Boeing DC-10 passenger planes it has modified to drop up to 11,600 gallons of fire-retardant slurry. That's about four times the capacity of the next-biggest large air tankers under contract by the U.S. Forest Service.
The jumbo jets were built as commercial airliners and converted to firefighting aircraft.
The company is preparing to move from Victorville, east of Los Angeles, to the Casper airport within the next month or so, bringing 16 or so employees.
Earlier this month, 10 Tanker was one of five air tanker companies to receive a U.S. Forest Service contract to fly jet-powered, "next-generation" air tankers that meet certain requirements for speed and slurry capacity.
The company will fly one of its planes under the next-generation contract and the other on a call-as-needed basis.
"We continue to enjoy a very good relationship with California and the Forest Service, but there's no compelling reason for us to continue to locate here in Victorville," 10 Tanker Air Carrier President Rick Hatton said Wednesday.
Being based in Casper, he said, will give his company closer access to other regions of the U.S. Forest Service system.
It will be Wyoming's first active company flying large air tankers since Greybull-based Hawkins & Powers closed in 2005.
Last year's busy wildfire season provided a lot of business to 10 Tanker.
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