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Air Resources For Black Forest Fire Limited Due To Multiple Wildfires

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) - During the TV coverage of the Black Forest Fire that broke out northeast of Colorado Springs Tuesday afternoon many people noticed there weren't a lot of aerial resources on the fire.

The Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center told CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger several air resources that were pre-staged were in use and they were trying to deploy other resources from a variety of locations that are quite some distance away. That includes New Mexico, Silver City, Nev., and as far away as Phoenix.

At the Royal Gorge Fire a DC-10 from Albuquerque was making drops. It has a 40-minute turnaround after each drop. There were also three Bureau of Land Management engines with one firefighting squad, one 20-person crew, one hotshot crew, and a helitack crew, according to the incident website.

Officials have ordered two single engine air tankers (SEATs), a Type 11 hot shot crew, three hand crews, and a Type 3 incident management team. Type 1 is considered the highest level.

At the Black Forest Fire a helicopter was picking up water and making drops and an air tanker was due to arrive there around 7 p.m. from Siliver City, Nev.

A federal law called the 1932 Economy Act requires the use of private contractors before any federal resources can be brought in. After the huge fires last year there were vows of better communication and coordination to bring in those resources as quickly as possible.

Fort Carson indicated it was sending command and control teams to establish ground communication with air crews.

There was also much discussion at the state legislature this year of creating a Colorado fleet of air tankers, but while it was passed, it was not funded.

It is a critical situation with not just one fire going, but several all in the same state at the same time.

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