Colorado Springs

Two DC-10 air tankers work to contain Colorado fires

Two DC-10 air tankers work to contain Colorado fires

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Two DC-10 air tankers temporarily stationed at the Colorado Springs airport were called in to help contain the Badger Creek fire Tuesday afternoon.

The tankers are facilitated by the U.S. Forest Service to help extinguish massive wildfires across the country.

"The sooner we can catch a fire, the smaller we can keep it," said Robby Cline, the air tanker manager with the U.S. Forest Service.

The aircraft require a five-member crew including the captain, co-pilot, flight engineer, and two additional flight mechanics.

"These aircraft go all over the country it just depends on where the need is," said Cline.

Right now, the biggest need is in Colorado. For the past five days, these teams have flown to nearly every part of the state to assist fire crews.

Here's where they've been so far:

-The Baco fire burning west of Vail in Eagle County.

-The Badger Creek fire burning two miles north of the Colorado, Wyoming state line.

-The 416 fire burning southwest, near Durango.

-The Natty fire, that's now contained but burned northeast of Canon City. 

Cline explains when crews get a call, the aircraft has to be en route to the location within 15 minutes. It's a short timeframe to verify the 10,000 gallons of fire retardant is loaded before take off.

"The retardant lays a nice long line, three-quarters of a mile long, depending on what coverage level the guys on the ground want," said Capt. Dan Montelli.

Montelli explains communication with ground crews is key to assess their resources are properly allocated. 

"The firefighters on the ground actually put the fire out, but we're there to help them," he said.

The U.S. Forest Service has been working with the city of Colorado Springs, Army, and the Air Force for two years to access the land beside Peterson Air Force Base.

For more information on the air tankers, read here.

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