LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Southern California has a new aerial weapon to help fight fires at night.

Helicopters have been flying at night for years, but now fire crews will be using the first large capacity aircraft that can actually hover and refill after dark.

The high-capacity helitanker can drop 1,000 gallons of water at a time.

Helitankers have already been used in Australia, and now they will be used in the U.S. and Southern California.

“Flying at night is not new, hover-filling is new, hover-filling a large helitanker is brand new,” said OC Fire Authority’s Chief Brian Fennessy.

“We really see this as a game-changer,” Fennessy said. “Putting significant amounts of water on a fire quickly through hover-filling is that game-changer.”

A smaller chopper will be flying over fires along with the helitanker, directing the pilot on where to make the water drop and measuring the effectiveness of it.

SoCal Edison is funding the tanker test program in Southern California.


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