On November 21, at 2:00 p.m., the alert crew of the Dauphin of the French Navy was contacted by the Civil Protection department to reinforce the means of fighting a fire. Driven by a strong wind, it threatened to spread to nearby inhabited areas. The crew of the second Dauphin helicopter, on alert 72 hours, was in turn engaged in the face of the threat.
At 2:40 p.m., the first Dauphin took off from the Military Aeronautical Group (GAM) to reach the intervention zone five minutes later for a first assessment of the situation. Coordinated by the commander of ground rescue operations, the first drops were carried out as close as possible to the firefighting teams, reaching the end of their water autonomy and awaiting the arrival of ground reinforcements.
Thirty-five minutes later, the second Dauphin arrived as a reinforcement. The norias of the two helicopters between the fire and the lagoon to draw water there followed one another for nearly two hours before the two devices needed to return to refuel at the GAM. Thanks to the effectiveness of the combined drops of the two helicopters and the firefighters’ struggle on the ground, only the first Dauphin was re-engaged after refueling. He worked almost two more hours until the fire was extinguished.
Intervening in an area of more than 4 hectares, this coordination of air and land resources will have made it possible to contain the fire in forest areas and to spare nearby homes. The two Dolphins helicopters carried out 74 water drops during the 5h30 flight.
The Dauphin helicopter of the Armed Forces in French Polynesia (FAPF) has a water bomber capacity (metropolitan and overseas). This very specific skill held by the detachment of the 35F Flotilla of the French Navy makes it possible to reach isolated or steep places where firefighters on land cannot go.