WASHINGTON (CBS4) – There have already been two major fires in Colorado this year, and federal officials say as more break out in the state this year they’ll be ready.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined with other officials on Thursday to say that the federal government is ready for the wildfire season.

“Regions across the country face serious risks of extreme wildfires this year because of the mild winter and low precipitation levels in many areas,” said Salazar in a prepared statement. “Knowing the risks and preparing for the wildfire season is a key part of a successful fire response, and Interior will continue to coordinate closely with federal, state, local and tribal partners to ensure we are ready for any fire scenario. Our thousands of firefighting men and women stand ready to suppress wildfires as early as possible to minimize human safety risks and prevent damage to the environment and our economy.”

According to the report they presented, there are more than 15,000 firefighters ready, with about $3 billion earmarked for firefighting.

“Federal firefighters, aircraft, and ground equipment are strategically assigned to parts of the country as the fire season shifts across the nation. Firefighting experts will continuously monitor conditions and move these assets as necessary to be best positioned and increase initial attack capabilities,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “In addition, we are in the midst of conducting accelerated restoration activities nationwide that will result in healthier forests and will lessen fire risks in years to come.”

Both leaders acknowledged that wildfires are getting more complex to fight as more people move into wooded and mountainous areas.

Colorado’s Western Slope is on the list of high concerns in part of because of the drought.

LINK: National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy


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