Maine Forest Service gets new helicopter

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 5:43 PM EDT
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OLD TOWN, Maine (WABI) - Mainers will see a new helicopter in the skies to help to fight forest fires and assist in search and rescue missions.

It’s been years in the making but Tuesday the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry unveiled the newest in the Maine Forest Service’s helicopter fleet.

Gov. Janet Mills was there and joined agency officials to talk about the importance of this upgrade.

The Bell 407 helicopter is equipped and ready to go starting this month.

The purchase of the $2.8 million helicopter was approved by the legislature as part of the governor’s budget.

It replaces one that’s more than 50 years old.

”We’ve been trying to replace our older helicopters for about 20 years and it’s been a slow process. The old military Hueys have been a great bird for and we’ll keep flying them for another 10 or 15 years or so but we had to start making the change,” said John Crowley, Maine Forest Service chief pilot.

“One’s here. Another one’s on the way. This will help keep our forests safe and help keep our people safe,” said Mills.

The helicopter will be able to drop water, move firefighters and equipment quickly - especially to rural areas.

It will also be used to help other state agencies like state police, game wardens and more.

Last year alone, officials say the forest service dropped more than 91,000 gallons of water on fires and carried 269 firefighters.