Jet fuel shortage could ground the planes meant to fight wildfires

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Tanker 914 is one of four DC-10 jets converted from passenger service to firefighting by the Albuquerque-based 10 Tanker. The company sends its planes around the globe to battle blazes, but they become a regular fixture in the Southern California skies for several months of the year. Each aircraft can carry 9,400 gallons of retardant. Photo by Matt Guilhem / KCRW.

As Southern California enters the tensest months of fire season, a looming issue could keep critical air assets used to battle the big blazes stuck on the ground, or force them to go long distances between drops. 

A lack of truck drivers is making it hard to move jet fuel around all of the West. Rural airports that double as air tanker bases in Montana and Idaho have already seen their fuel tanks run dry and had to send fire planes elsewhere for supplies. Now it looks like that problem could be migrating south to the Golden State.