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Supervisors agree to pick up tab on ‘Incredible Hulk’ copter

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to cover the cost of operating a firefighting helicopter beyond the two hours per incident San Diego Gas and Electric has agreed to donate.

SDG&E leased the helicopter, a S64E Helitanker, nicknamed the “Incredible Hulk,” through the end of November to assist firefighting agencies battle any potential wildfires. SDG&E is making the helicopter available to all fire agencies in the county free of charge for the first two hours of every fire on which it is used.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with SDG&E to cover the cost of the helicopter beyond the first two hours of service. The county agreed to pay for up to 20 hours of additional flight time for the helicopter in the event it’s used during a wildfire.

“The county will make this helicopter available to all local agencies, cities and fire districts, at no additional cost should the fire event last longer than two hours,’' a report to supervisors states.

According to the report, covering the additional hours of operating the helicopter would cost a maximum of $150,000. The money will come from funds left over from the lease last year of two firefighting aircraft.

The helicopter, which was leased through and will be operated by Erickson Air-Crane, is equipped with a flexible hose “snorkel” capable of filling with 2,650 gallons of fresh or sea water in less than 45 seconds that can be dropped on wildfires. It will also be used by SDG&E to install power

poles.