Water bombers help in bushfire battle

Two AIR tractors officially took to Tasmanian skies for the first time this week, helping to save the Musselroe Bay township from an out-of-control bushfire.

The AT-802 fixed-wing water bombers, owned by Field Air, were flown from Victoria to help fight the blaze on Monday afternoon, dropping thousands of litres of water on large hot spots.

Forestry Tasmania fire management technical officer Martin Piesse said it was the first time the tractors had been used in Tasmania since a trial run in 2009.

``They carry 3000 litres of water and have done 39 runs since they arrived - so they have dropped about 120,000 litres of water on to the fire's edge in about six hours,'' Mr Piesse said.

Field Air managing director Peter Mackay said the tractors, which had just returned from six months of fire fighting in Canada, were fitted with computerised fire gates that allowed pilots to control the amount of water dropped and the coverage.

``They also have powerful turbo prop engines, allowing the takeoff performance to work from remote airstrips close to the fire source and allowing operations in mountainous terrain,'' Mr Mackay said.

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