JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Two air tankers are on standby at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Jefferson County in case a large wildfire breaks out.

The U.S. Forest Service called for the resources after checking conditions. They’ve been dry, windy and the temperatures this month have been above average. The Front Range only received a dusting of rain, barely measureable, which has left the dead grasses and brush from last season bone dry and ready to burn.

The single engine air tankers are typically always in Colorado, but rotated around the state as they’re needed. But the heavy air tanker is from a national fleet. It’s in Colorado because of the high fire danger and the fact that there’s no moisture in sight for the next week.

“You know fire season is year-round so we monitor the conditions and when we get into a period of hot and dry like we’ve seen here we’re able to utilize our predictive services unit to figure out what the conditions are going to be and then we move the resources that we’re going to need,” Steve Segin with the U.S. Forest Service said. “In this case the state was able to activate a single engine air tanker and we were able to move in a heavy air tanker from the southwest and preposition it here in Colorado.”

The Forest Service says that 97 percent of fires are stopped if they are caught right away when firefighters first get on scene.

If March passes with no additional moisture it will be the driest month on record. The driest March right now was set in 1908 with an 11th of an inch.


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