COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -- Firefighting planes in North Idaho have been using less fire retardant compared to the past couple of years.

You might not know it, but many of those air tankers fill up with retardant near Coeur d'Alene's airport. Those air tankers fly in and out, while the guys on the ground pump them full of retardant.

But this year, it seems that the skies have been less smoky and many around the Inland Northwest have been breathing easy. So what do the stats say about how much of the red stuff these planes have dumped this year?

According to the U.S. Forest Service, Coeur d'Alene's tanker base has loaded over 274,832 gallons of retardant so far this year. They also used 43,400 gallons BlazeTamer (GEL), and 97,496 gallons water from the scoopers.

In 2018, the amount of retardant used was more than double that of 2019, with 646,307 gallons of the stuff loaded into tankers. It is more than 2016, though, when 201,000 gallons were loaded up.

Over the last half a dozen years, the base has been remodeled. Improvements have included upgrades to a mixing station and a new pit that holds the retardant. 

All important changes to a base that's proven to be essential for not just North Idaho, but the Inland Northwest.

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