The Colorado Springs Airport and U.S. Forest Service will spend $17 million to build a regional firefighting base at the airport that will allow air tankers to load retardant to battle fires in five states and parts of 10 others.

Construction is scheduled to begin in April on offices, a storage building for retardant, an area where retardant will be mixed and seven stations to load the retardant onto waiting aircraft, according to a joint news release from Colorado Springs and Forest Service. The federal agency has operated a temporary base since 2018 at the airport for military and commercial aircraft it uses to fight wildfires. The permanent base is expected to open in 2021.

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