Local News

When to bring in air support to battle a fire

FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. - People who live around the Eightmile Fire expected air support to show up when the fire was only one acre. A firefighter said bringing in helicopters and airplanes is not a simple decision.

Residents say the fire should have been taken care of with helicopters and planes that have water and retardant before the flames burned close to 500 acres.

"You know it makes sense to me rather than get it big, same thing happened during the Haymen fire, they diddled around and see what happened," Jerry Harter said.

"Our big question was where the helicopters are? Where is the help for people living in the area? " Kim Rosenbrock said.

Incident commander Dan Dallas said firefighters were monitoring the Eightmile Fire when the size was one acre, and it wasn't a priority to put it out because the terrain was too steep and it was unsafe for firefighters.

"What they chose to do at the time is watch it and stand back because of the weather and fuel at the time and where it was. The first few days it wasn't active," he said.

But when the weather became a factor that's when the call was made to bring air support. Dallas said the material that is put on the fire doesn't solve everything.

"One of the things I want to highlight to folks is it seems easy, you get a helicopter with water or a retardant plane and dump it on the fire and then it's out, it's almost never true. It's the people on the ground who run in after the aircraft drops its water or retardant who put the fire out," Dallas said.

Three helicopters, three single engine air tankers and two heavy air tankers were used to help battle the fire.

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