Plane accidentally drops fire retardant over Fresno
The U.S. Forest Service, Air National Guard, and CalFire are all investigating the accidental drop of flame retardant over North Fresno Saturday afternoon.
The Fresno Air Attack Base confirms a C-130 firefighting aircraft dropped the red-colored shortly after takeoff, around 5:30 p.m.
Shortly after, Fox26 News began receiving reports from viewers that it fell over cars, homes, and businesses across North Fresno, including River Park Shopping Center.
Battalion Chief John Harpain with the U.S. Forest Service says the plane had been on its way to fight the so-called "Jacksonville Fire" in Tuolumne County in the Lake Don Pedro area.
Lt. Colonel Michael Fugett, who oversees the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) says the crew had carried out two or three drops over the fire already.
"We feel terrible when this happens. We never want this to happen," Lt. Col. Fugett said. "It's not very common. But when it does happen, we take it seriously."
He reassured the public that the substance is non-toxic.
"It's a salt-based fertilizer-- something you'd put on your lawn. We add the red dye so we can see it when we drop it. It's a completely safe substance," he said.
He urged those affected to immediately wash it with warm water -- and soap, if necessary.
Calfire is referring those who say the substance won't come off their cars to fill out a claim with the state.