Chopper 'Elvis' still out of action

IN the middle of Victoria's fire fighting season, water bombing helicopter 'Elvis' is out of action for the second time in one week.

The Erickson Aircrane 'Elvis' (Helitak 341) will be unable to fight fires for at least three days after it suffered hydraulic problems while working in and round Aberfeldy on Friday.

The State Control Centre has moved sister helicopter Erickson Aircrane 'Gypsy Lady' (Helitack 342) to Essendon Airport ready to replace 'Elvis'.

In a statement, the Victorian control centre said the hydraulic problems were unrelated to the mechanical problems Elvis had earlier this week.

Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said there are 14 aircraft currently fighting the Gippsland fires.

“The slightly cooler conditions across the state, and short flight times, have allowed us to place additional resources on stand-by for for the Gippsland fires," Mr Lapsley said.

“We will monitor the situation, including lightning strikes that occurred in the north-east overnight, before determining where and when the additional resources will be deployed.”

Mr Lapsley listed the other aircraft involved in the fire to allay concerns about Elvis' grounding. These include one heavy, two medium and two light fire bombers have been joined by three fixed-wing fire bombers, five light air attack supervision-observation helicopters and one fixed-wing firespotter to fight the Gippsland fires.

There are 70 trucks and more than 270 personnel working the Gippsland fires from CFA and DSE.

“We thank the volunteers and career staff that are working hard in very hot, smokey and challenging conditions,” Mr Lapsley said.

This story Chopper 'Elvis' still out of action first appeared on The Age.