A firefighting Supertanker plane from the US is helping in the Amazon rainforest

Posted at 8:54 PM, Aug 24, 2019

(CNN) — Bolivia just got a huge helping hand in the fight to keep raging fires in the Amazon rainforest at bay.

Colorado-based Global SuperTanker sent its Boeing 747-400 firefighting plane to the South American country Friday to conduct firefighting missions over part of Bolivia’s portion of the rainforest, the company announced.

The B747-400 SuperTanker is in the category of Very Large Airtankers (VLAT) used for fighting fires. It is capable of dropping around 19,000 gallons of retardant per trip, according to the company’s website.

Bolivian President Evo Morales tweeted earlier this week that he ordered the hiring of a Boeing 747 SuperTanker to help the firefighting effort in the Chiquitania region.

The Amazon spans eight countries, including Bolivia, though the majority of the forest is in Brazil. Often called “the planet’s lungs,” the Amazon forest produces about 20% of the world’s oxygen.

The fires are burning at the highest rate since Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research began tracking them in 2013, the institute said Tuesday. It said an 80% increase in deforestation has occurred this year compared to the same period last year.

Dan Reese, president of Global SuperTanker, traveled to South America as part of a 14-person team to battle the fires in Bolivia. He told CNN there are “an unbelievable number of fires” in the Amazon and his company is part of the response.

The company said Saturday it had completed three sorties and was preparing for a fourth.

Morales tweeted video of the SuperTanker during its mission.

“The Supertanker and our helicopters work to put out the fire,” he wrote. “I appreciate the efforts of so many compatriots, men and women, who work on this hard task. We face this battle against fire together.”

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Originally Published: 24 AUG 19 19:24 ET