Cal Fire said Saturday it's added 24 aircraft to its statewide fleet to fight wildfires.
The agency said in a statement that, with more than $72 million in funding provided by the administration of Gov. Gavin Newsom, Cal Fire is adding 19 helicopters and 5 airplanes for a contractual period of 90-120 days.
The additional fixed-wing aircraft includes three large airtankers specifically designed to carry up to 4,000 gallons of retardant. The aircraft have been strategically located in communities across California and will be pre-positioned to meet the needs of potential fire activity throughout the state.
"The deployment of more aircraft dedicated to the people of California marks a historic milestone, with the highest number of firefighting aircraft ever available for initial attack in the state for the second consecutive year," stated Cal Fire Director and Fire Chief Joe Tyler, in the statement.
Tyler said "the significant rainfall California experienced this winter has led to a substantial increase of highly flammable fuels, which contribute to the rapid escalation of fires."
As summer temperatures increased last week, Cal Fire responded to more than 300 wildfires. The aircraft have been positioned in Sonoma and Napa counties, as well as Butte, Tuolumne, San Diego, Tulare, Humboldt, Mariposa, Nevada, Siskiyou, Sacramento, Fresno, Shasta, San Luis Obispo, Placer, Lassen and Riverside counties.
Cal Fire now has more than 60 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, making it the largest civil aerial firefighting fleet worldwide, the agency said.