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Push is on to add aerial arsenal to fight wildfires

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Wednesday is the two-year anniversary of the Lower North Fork Fire and there is a firefighting arsenal aimed at saving lives and homes.

This demonstration is being called a next generation aerial firefighting show for good reason. We’re going to see a new line of aircraft and a C-130 water drop to show us how effective this new technology is.

There’s a Forest Service C-130 Hercules built for high-performance firefighting designed by Coulson Aviation. And a customized Sikorsky helicopter is scheduled to be unveiled this morning. Both could be a tremendous resource during Colorado wildfires, but they are expensive.

At the State Capitol, lawmakers are debating a bill that would have the state buy or lease up to three firefighting helicopters and four big aircraft like a C-130 at an estimated cost of up to $12 million.

In about a week, the state will release a report that will make suggestions on how Colorado should improve its aerial firefighting arsenal.

The demonstration today comes on the anniversary of the Lower North Fork Fire, which burned 4,100 acres, killing three people and destroying 23 homes.

It’s a harsh reminder that wildfires can happen this time of the year. Just last weekend, firefighters began training for what’s ahead.

The aircraft support the firefighters down on the ground. They’re here to allow firefighters to get close enough to a fire where they can put a line on a ground and actually control the fire.

State Sen. Steve King is pushing this bill for new firefighting aircraft and will have other lawmakers in Centennial to convince them they’re worth the investment. The demonstration is scheduled to being a little before 8 a.m.