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Firefighting plane's use in Texas wildfire delayed

Sept. 8, 2011 at 4:08 a.m.


BASTROP, Texas (AP) — Firefighters can't use one of their biggest weapons against a devastating wildfire in Central Texas because they haven't assembled the tanks and pipes to fill a converted jetliner with fire retardant nor a pilot to fly it over the blaze.

The Texas Forest Service says the DC-10 arrived from California on Wednesday, but it won't be used until at least Friday to battle the fire that's destroyed nearly 1,400 homes. Agency spokeswoman Holly Huffman says authorities need that time to assemble the equipment and prepare the retardant.

She says even if the plane and equipment was ready sooner, authorities don't have anyone to fly it because the pilot who was to conduct the drop has worked 14 straight days and must take two days off under policy.

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