Facing a worsening wildfire predicament, Colorado leaders on Thursday braced for more big burns and declared they’re shifting state strategy and millions of taxpayer dollars toward early detection and aggressive rapid response to squelch flames before they spread.
More aerial assets including a $24 million helicopter, prepositioning of air tankers that haul water and fire-snuffing slurry, and increased teamwork among local, state and federal agencies have placed Colorado in what officials described as an unprecedented state of readiness.
“Colorado used to talk about a fire season. It is now a year-round phenomenon,” Gov. Jared Polis said after a meeting of federal and state authorities, referring to the impacts of climate change.
“We expect dry conditions to make this fire season especially challenging. … I want everybody to get involved and do their part to prevent wildfires in Colorado communities,” he said.
And fires that burn in forests and other natural areas threaten the state economically, he said. “They’re critical to attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists every year… Our outdoor areas have been a sanctuary for us during this pandemic.”
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