3:05pm

Fri April 5, 2013
Wildfires

Firefighting Plane Now On Standby In Northern Colorado

This week state officials stationed a single-engine air tanker at the Fort Collins-Loveland Airport in anticipation of a busy wildfire season.

The small plane is one of up to three the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control will make available for the season. Pilot Parker Lucas says the planes are useful because they can get within 10 miles of a fire and drop up to 800 gallons of fire retardant or suppressant. They can also relocate more quickly compared to larger air tankers.

“We’re smaller, we don’t carry as much as a heavy tanker. But we can work in pairs and tag and extend lines,” he said.

A map of designated airports that are stockpiled with retardants and chemicals for SEAT planes

Current wildfire season forecasts indicate that risk is highest for fires in northwest, southwest and southeast Colorado. Colorado Fire Prevention and Control Operations Chief Rocco Snart says right now the risk doesn’t look high for fire along the Front Range.

“That’s not to say that we can’t have fires along the Front Range. That’s just what the models are saying.”

The single engine aircrafts won’t remain stationed in any particular place and will be moved throughout the state during the wildfire season. Colorado has more than a dozen airports that can serve as bases for the state-commissioned planes this summer.