5 More Air Tankers Will Fight Fires

California will be served by five additional air tankers for the remainder of the fire season as a result of emergency legislation signed Monday by Gov. George Deukmejian.

Deukmejian signed the measure that was introduced by Assemblywoman Lucy Killea (D-San Diego) after the Normal Heights fire on June 30.

A spokeswoman for Killea said the bill allows the state to pay $1.5 million for the immediate rental of five air tankers that will be available until the end of the fire season in December.

The tankers will be assigned to the state Department of Forestry, which currently has 21 tankers available for service throughout the state. Nineteen of the tankers presently in use can carry 800 gallons of retardant each, while the two biggest planes carry 3,000 gallons, according to Killea aide Fran Zimmerman. He said the new tankers will each be able to carry 4,000 gallons of retardants.