CHEYENNE, Wyo.—A company that uses converted DC-10 passenger planes to fight wildfires won't move its headquarters to Casper after all but will be based somewhere in the Southwest.

The company, 10 Tanker Air Carrier, has two DC-10s, each of which can drop about four times more fire-retardant slurry than the next-biggest air tankers with U.S. Forest Service contracts.

One of the 10 Tanker planes has seen heavy use this summer fighting fires in Colorado and the Southwest, including the recent Arizona fire that killed 19 hotshot firefighters on the ground.

The company announced in May it was preparing to move to Casper from Victorville, Calif. On Friday, 10 Tanker President Rick Hatton said Wyoming has been welcoming to his company but the desert Southwest offers a better climate to store planes.

Also, a reassessment of Wyoming's tax advantages showed little benefit to relocating to the state.

"We started to rethink our decision and we started to conclude that the receptivity in Wyoming, which was lovely, didn't outweigh the other factors," Hatton said.

He hasn't settled yet on a headquarters location yet, he said, but it won't be Victorville. He suggested that it could be New Mexico or Arizona.

Hatton's company is one of five that in May received U.S. Forest Service contracts to fly a combined total of seven "next-generation" air tankers that meet certain minimum slurry capacity and speed requirements.


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So far, the DC-10 is the only plane fully certified by the Forest Service and Federal Aviation Administration to fly under the next-generation contracts. The other six are contracted for use by Aug. 2 and 10.

Casper/Natrona County International Airport officials had begun writing applications to the Wyoming Business Council for state grants that would have benefited 10 Tanker. The grant money could have helped provide a new headquarters for the company.

Air tankers spend little time at their home airport during fire season and Hatton said he envisioned his planes and most employees wintering in the Southwest. Moving into a partly state-funded building would be "kind of unfair" under those circumstances, he said.