Company fights to keep fuel supply to Medford tankers – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News
File photo A nationwide shortage of jet fuel is forcing Medford airport officials to closely monitor their supplies during fire season.
A Million Air of Medford crew refuels a tanker during the party at Medford Airport. Photo for Million Air Medford
A Million Air of Medford crew refuels a tanker at Medford Airport. Photo for Million Air Medford
Jet fuel shortage hits west during fire season
Uncertain jet fuel supplies have a Medford aviation services company struggling to maintain fuel supplies to local tankers battling regional wildfires.
Million Air Medford at Rogue Valley-Medford International Airport refuels commercial jets, business jets, private jets and planes flying from nearby Medford Air Force Base.
Supply chain issues mean fuel supplies are uncertain, said Shane Hickman, managing director of Million Air Medford.
“I would have said two or three days ago I was fine and they were adequate with what I was getting per day based on what I was raising,” he said on Friday. âBut with fires, things change on a daily basis. I would say the fuel supply is a problem. Getting drivers is a problem. So there is a fairly serious problem there.
Jet fuel supplies have plummeted in the United States amid declining air travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for fuel is rising as more people return to travel and tanker bases fight summer wildfires in the West, the Associated Press reported.
âWe coordinate strongly with our suppliers to keep the proper fuel we need to keep tankers running. This is obviously a priority for us,â Hickman said. âSo we’re working really hard with our team here, with the pilots that we have and with our fuel supplier to make sure that happens.â
He said Million Air Medford is also coordinating with local agencies on the issue of fuel supply.
Large tank planes typically run on jet fuel, while small support planes use aviation gasoline. Aviation gasoline supplies are more stable, Hickman said.
Although there are no major forest fires near Medford, Medford Air Force Base is helping to fight fires in the area.
As of Friday, the Jack Fire east of Roseburg had burned 16,667 acres and the Cutoff Fire east of Klamath Falls amounted to 1,288 acres.
The Bootleg fire northeast of Klamath Falls is the largest wildfire in the country, with more than 241,497 acres burned on Friday. The fire is only 7% contained.
The 200-mile perimeter of the Bootleg fire is expanding as embers whipped up by dry winds are half a mile before the main blaze, fire officials said on Friday.
Forest fires are also burning in northern California.
Medford-based Mercy Flights, which operates ambulance helicopter and plane flights and a ground ambulance service, said this week that fuel supplies are so far adequate.
âAt this time, we do not anticipate any fuel shortage issues at our regular sites. However, we will monitor this situation and plan accordingly to mitigate any potential impact on our critical air ambulance services, âsaid Andrew Rhoden, chief fixed-wing pilot for Mercy Flights.
Mercy Flights provides air ambulance service in southern Oregon and northern California.