EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. - Technically, it's called a helibucket. Informally, it's known by the copyrighted name of Bambi Bucket. In any case, its use in aerial firefighting fascinates spectators watching the process during the Black Forest Wildfire.
On Thursday, several helicopters visited ponds along Murphy Road in El Paso County. A steady stream of traffic pulled over, and people eagerly got out to watch and take pictures.
Each helicopter lifted a bucket suspended on a cable. A bucket can hold from dozens to hundreds of gallons of water. Loudly but gracefully, the helicopters lowered the buckets into the water until full. The bucket drops created sprays of wind and water that thrilled spectators.
One by one, the helicopters lifted their loads and flew to drop them on the wildfire. The helicopters went back and forth all afternoon, rarely taking longer than several minutes between drops.
"I'd never seen anything like that before," said Didi Mills, a former volunteer firefighter. "It was amazing. I kind of had an idea of what was involved, but not to this extent."