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Should fire hit Malibu or the surrounding area, firefighters have a new tool at their disposal.
According to the city of Malibu, for the fire season that starts June 15, 69 Bravo Helistop, the world’s most advanced helitanker refilling base, located at the top of Topanga Canyon, is being upgraded to handle the Chinook 47, the world’s largest firefighting chopper.
Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties have each secured use of one of the giant helicopters, and each will be based within a 14-minute flight of 69 Bravo, a 34-acre water supply station that allows for automated refilling of water-dropping helicopters round the clock.
Until now, 69 Bravo has been outfitted with four self-replenishing 6,000-gallon rubber/vinyl water containers. To accommodate the Chinook 47, which has a capacity of 3,000 gallons, the “pumpkin” tanks are being upgraded to 8,000-gallon metal containers.
The Chinook made test runs from 69 Bravo in November 2020.
69 Bravo Helistop is located near the top of Saddle Peak Road, offering a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Officials say the refilling facility has 10,000 gallons of water onsite in self-replenishing tanks, as well as hookups to fire hydrants and water storage.
“Being located in the Santa Monica Mountains, 69 Bravo allows helicopters to drop water, turn around, re-fill and quickly get back to (a) blaze, providing a crucial resource for the Los Angeles County Fire Department to be able to protect Malibu from its number one public safety threat,” according to the announcement.
For more on 69 Bravo, including streaming webcams, videos and photos, go to 69bravo.com.