18. July 2023

Forest fire near Bitsch: Over 24 hours of fire-fighting operations

Air Zermatt helicopters have been fighting the forest fire above Bitsch for over a day. In particular, the fire-fighting flights of Air Zermatt during the first hours and during the night on Tuesday were able to significantly contain the fire; buildings in the forest fire area were protected by the tireless fire-fighting efforts.

Air Zermatt coordinates firefighting from the air in cooperation with the fire brigades and is responsible for helicopter operations. The helicopter operations manager decides together with the fire brigades which resources are to be deployed at what time. The safety of the helicopter crews is a decisive factor. The steep terrain as well as the heavy smoke development pose great challenges for the fire-fighting helicopters. On Tuesday, firefighting from the air was therefore intensified. A total of seven helicopters were deployed at times to fight the fire: 3 Super Pumas, 2 K-Max and 2 Ecureuils. During the night, the helicopter deployment was again reduced to two twin-engine helicopters from Air Zermatt and Air Glaciers respectively. 

On Tuesday, the new, patented Air Zermatt extinguishing tank was used temporarily. The pneumatic aluminium extinguishing tank makes it possible to drop one tonne of extinguishing water directly over the source of the fire in just three seconds, which means that it reaches the source of the fire in a concentrated form. As a result, less extinguishing water is vaporised by the heat of the fire.


Photo: Gerry Hofstetter




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