Four years after a massive wildfire threatened the school, a Catholic college in southern California has installed a helipad on its campus, with the goal of assisting local firefighters.
Thomas Aquinas College, located near Santa Paula, California, recently unveiled a concrete helipad designed to accommodate the needs of a Firehawk helicopter. The local fire department christened the new pad with a training exercise on the afternoon of Dec. 7.
Ventura County owns two Firehawks, each of which has a rescue hoist, night vision capabilities, and the ability to drop 1,000 gallons of water or foam on a fire.
If a fire starts in the nearby mountains, the Firehawks will be able to refill their water tanks at the school’s helipad, saving them a longer trip to the town of Fillmore.
The local fire chief expressed gratitude to the school, noting that the refilling location closer to the mountains will mean “we can put more water on a fire while it’s small, giving it less time to spread.”
The 2017 Thomas Fire, named for the school, sparked in early December less than a mile from campus, and on its first day spread at a rate of one acre per second.
It ultimately burned nearly 300,000 acres, including hundreds of residences in the town of Ventura, making it the largest wildfire in state history up to that point….
The above comes from a Dec. 8 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.