Quite by chance after this lecture had been written I saw at first hand part of the fire-fighting operation in the Tanneron in the South of France using flying-boats. This provided an excellent point from which to begin.
On 23rd August 1986 a vast fire was started deliberately, it was alleged, in the valley of the River Siagne, between Grasse and Mandelieu. There was a strong mistral blowing at the time. It was brought under control two days later with the aid of a small force of around nine ‘Pelicans’: Canadair CL-215 flying-boats (Plate 1). Each aeroplane can scoop up over 5000 litres (more than five tons) of water, in 10 seconds while planing at 70 knots (Plate 2). At times three aircraft would land in loose formation to do so. In the end the fire, said to be the worst since 1706, was reported to have destroyed 10 000 hectares (say 25 000 acres) of farm, forest and homes. Four people died, 700 suffered from burns and asphyxia, 8000 were left homeless.