We spent the afternoon with a group of friends at a lakehome on Forest Lake. Late in the afternoon we noted a big, bulky yellow plane like this flying low over the water. It made multiple sweeps over the lake scooping up water. This fixed wing plane is used to fight forest fires. We were not aware of a fire and didn't smell smoke so it could have been a training mission. (Monday morning news tells of wildfires threatening homes in Andover in the northern suburbs.) http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_12492249
Seven or eight years ago we visited friends who lived in Montana. It was very dry and widespread forest fires were raging. In the evening we sat on their deck and watched fires on the side of the nearby mountain. We spent a Sunday at their cabin on a long canyon lake and watched a plane like this continually dip to the lake surface to scoop up water. The fires were near. Their lake property was safe because the fires had already burned close to it. No more fuel for a fire that day.
It is amazing to watch the firefighting activities and I admire the bravery of the firefighters who do this work. My son has a childhood friend who graduated from St. Olaf College and then became a smokejumper. At $35,000 / year for college, seems like expensive preparation for the job.