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May 9, 2013
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Summit County helps brief Hickenlooper on wildfire danger

Colorado fire and government officials held a briefing on Thursday at the Denver Jet Center in Englewood.

State and federal agencies highlighted their commitment to suppress wildfire during the event, briefing Gov. John Hickenlooper about the potential for wildfire in 2013.

“This briefing is held, in part, to present the resources we have in Colorado,” said Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs.

With the legislative session wrapping up and the wildfire season looming on the horizon, Gibbs said it’s a good time for leaders to come together.

“We are as prepared as we have, historically, ever been,” the commissioner said.

Even so, Gibbs would like to see more resources being put into the fight against wildfires.

Gibbs just returned from Washington, D.C., where he participated in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry wildfire briefing. He urged members of Congress to put more money into wildfire-suppression efforts and to support the work of on-the-ground firefighters who are the first line of defense against wildfires.

“I would love to see more air tankers because when a fire gets really large that makes a huge impact,” Gibbs said.

But, he said, 97 percent of wildfires are contained at 100 acres or less.

“We need to put emphasis on the front end to stomp out the fire before it turns into a hundred-acre fire,” Gibbs said.

The U.S. Forest Service has more than 308 firefighters and 32 fire engines in Colorado. But the bulk of the firefighters in the state, more than 1,100, come from local, state and other federal agencies.

There are 26 heavy air tankers on contract this year, and four air tanker bases in Colorado from which they can operate.

Gibbs said he’s confident local agencies are prepared for the wildfire season. “We are always planning and always thinking about how to best prepare for the worst,” he said.


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The Summit Daily Updated May 10, 2013 06:59AM Published May 10, 2013 08:48AM Copyright 2013 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.