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New Colorado airtanker base will accommodate airtankers of various sizes

The new airtanker base will boost firefighting capabilities within a 300-mile radius.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A new airtanker base in southern Colorado is officially open after a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday at Colorado Springs Airport.

The Colorado Springs Airtanker Base will accommodate airtankers of various sizes and have the capacity to deliver up to 85,600 gallons of retardant per hour within a 300-mile radius.

Officials with the City of Colorado Springs and USDA Forest Service said the new base is operational and has already supported recent fire suppression efforts. 

> Above video: A look at airtanker base in Jefferson County

“Air tankers provide such crucial support to firefighters and communities, I cannot overstate the value of this resource,” said Jacque Buchanan from the USDA Forest Service. “The Colorado Springs Airtanker Base will facilitate efficient responses to wildfires throughout Colorado and portions of Wyoming, South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.”

According to the City of Colorado Springs, the southern Colorado location was chosen for its ramp space, which will help increase productivity and lead to faster response times. During high fire activity, the ramp will be used as a retardant reload base for heavy airtankers.

In the winter months, Colorado Springs Airport will likely use the ramp as a de-icing pad for commercial aircraft.

Credit: City of Colorado Springs

“With increasing population in our region and state, and with dangerous fire conditions always on our minds, the Pikes Peak region is an ideal place to locate this airtanker base,” said Mayor John Suthers. “Colorado Springs is always at the forefront of protecting our nation, whether the threat comes from fire, land, air, space, or cyberspace. We welcome the airtanker base to Colorado Springs and look forward to it serving our region, our state and surrounding areas.”

Congress awarded the USDA Forest Service funding for the base as part of the 2018 Omnibus Bill, according to a release from Colorado Springs.

RELATED: Jeffco Airtanker Base open and ready for wildfires

RELATED: Permanent airtanker base coming to Colorado Springs

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