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Fire Crews Put Air Tankers on Standby as Warm, Dry Conditions Continue

Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies

Spring is a key time for those watching wildfires because snow is melting and exposing dead vegetation. Add in some warm, windy and dry conditions and you get the fire that erupted in Eastern Colorado last weekend, which scorched 37 square miles.

U.S. Forest Service Spokesperson Steve Segin says two air tankers—which can carry up to 2,800 gallons of fire retardant—are now on standby in the event of another wildfire.

“Bringing in a heavy air tanker from the southwest, as well as having a single-engine air tanker is going to help our ground crews make better progress if a wildfire is to start,” he says.

Segin says it’s unusual to have both airplanes in rotation in early March.

“That’s indicative of the conditions that are going on right now: warm, dry [and] increasing fire potential,” he says.

Despite the unusually early deployment of air tankers, Segin says overall there has been less wildfire activity this year compared to last.

In addition to Eastern Colorado, high fire danger is expected this weekend for Southeast Wyoming and Western Nebraska.

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