Colorado sends multi-mission planes south to help fight Texas wildfires

LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control sent one of its firefighting aircraft to help fight several wildfires in Texas.

Over the past seven days, firefighters have responded to 178 Texas wildfires that have burned a total of 108,493 acres as of Monday morning, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

The Colorado DFPC said its multi-mission aircraft (MMA) and four DFPC crew members plus a liaison officer departed for Texas on March 18 after a request for assistance from the Texas A&M Forest Service. MMA will detect new fires, determine fire perimeters and other data, and assist incident command personnel in decision making. It will respond to wildfires based on priority directives from Texas firefighters, said Caley Pruitt, public information officer at the DFPC.

Below are updates on some of the major wildfires burning in Texas Monday morning, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service:

  • The seven forest fires in the Eastland Complex in Eastland County burned approximately 54,134 acres. It is 30% contained
  • the Big fire in L in Erath and Hood counties is approximately 11,000 acres and 20% contained. The Forest Service said it is still active, but crews were able to stop its growth
  • the Ramsey’s Fire in Brown County is approximately 1,500 acres and 5% contained
  • the Sunday late fire in Live Oak County is 175 acres and 95% contained
  • the Three section fire in McMullen County is 687 acres and 100% confined
  • the Well 2 Fire in Archer County is 1,027 acres and 100% contained
  • the Marion 1009 Fire in Marion County is 256 acres and 100% confined
  • the Nocona Hills Fire in Montague County is 600 acres and 100% confined

The Forest Service initially requested the MMA for two weeks, but the actual time it will remain in the state will depend on fire activity there, as well as needs in Colorado, Pruitt said.

Monday will bring rain and thunderstorms, but also high winds, to the area, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

Wildfires are already responsible for the deaths of two firefighters – one in Texas and one in Oklahoma, according to the Associated Press.

Colorado DFPC Director Mike Morgan said this year could be a tough fire season. Recent snowstorms have limited wildfire potential in Colorado, allowing the state to offer support to Texas, which has aided Colorado in its own firefighting efforts.

“DFPC is honored to support our firefighter partners in Texas in times of need,” he said.

Colorado has two MMAs. The second will remain as is.

“We are continuously monitoring fire potential and activity in Colorado, and would call MMA back if our needs exceed what the remaining MMA can handle,” Pruitt said.

Both MMAs are Pilatus PC-12 aircraft. They are turboprop aircraft and can cruise and work above 20,000 feet when needed. The planes are based in Centennial and can reach almost anywhere in Colorado in less than an hour.

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