Petition to keep Martin Mars in service to be handed to B.C. premier

Fans of the Martin Mars water bomber are calling on premier Christy Clark to keep it in service.

For more than 50 years, the water bombers were a key element in fighting forest fires in B.C.

A fully loaded one can carry more than 27,000 litres in its tank, drenching wildfire areas.

A petition calling for the one remaining water bomber to be put back under contract for B.C. has now been signed by more than 18,500 people.

The petition will be dropped off at the premier’s constituency office in West Kelowna this afternoon.

However, the province has said the Martin Mars is not cost effective when compared to other options currently available.

The ministry of forests says the Martin Mars cannot drop long-term fire retardant and can only land on and scoop up water from about 113 bodies of water in B.C.

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It says from 2007 to 2013, the Martin Mars was only deployed on 20 wildfires or about 0.5 per cent of all missions in that time frame.

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