HILLSBORO, Ore.-- The next generation of air tankers is helping firefighters in Central Oregon.

Hillsboro-based Erickson Aero Tanker sent a pair of MD-87's to help fight the Two Bulls wildfire, west of Bend.

The air tankers are modified commercial airliners. Instead of carrying passengers, the MD-87's have been retrofitted to carry 4,000 gallons of fire retardant. The MD-87's are able to carry more retardant than older air tankers. They are faster too.

The turnaround times are much, much quicker, explained Kevin McCullough, President of Erickson Aero Tanker and Aero Air. Our aircraft are national resources, so wherever the fires are, and wherever the forest service wants us dispatched, is where we go.

Erickson Aero Tanker plans to have 10 MD-87s available to help fight wildfires. The air tankers will be based in Madra, Ore.

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