Air Tanker Contract Ended


Another busy fire season could be in store for Colorado, but state officials say they're ready, even though safety concerns have grounded the entire firefighting fleet of 33 air tankers.

Governor's spokesman Dan Hopkins says the state's emergency response team anticipated the groundings in April and authorized more than one million dollars in emergency funds. That money will put three, single-engine air tankers on standby.

The state also moved 10 fire engines closer to vulnerable areas.

The Forest Service and Interior Department are ending their contracts with companies for use of former military aircraft that were powerful weapons against wildfires. The announcement came after the National Transportation Safety Board's report on three crashes between 1994 and 2002 that killed seven crew members. One of those tankers crashed near Estes Park in 2002, killing both people on board.

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