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Galena Fire A Reminder Of Need For Better Air Support

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Copter4 flew over the Galena Fire west of Fort Collins on March 15, 2013. (credit: CBS)

Copter4 flew over the Galena Fire west of Fort Collins on March 15, 2013. (credit: CBS)

GALLERIES: COLORADO'S WORST WILDFIRES

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) -  Cold air and snow moved over the Galena Fire area in Larimer County giving fire crews some relief on Sunday.

The Galena Fire is now 75 percent contained and has burned up to 1,000 acres. Wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour pushed the fire along the western slope of Lory State Park.

Strong wind gusts have slowed down air support from battling the fire.

Officials say the fire was human caused. It started near the entrance to Lory State Park.

“Our Poudre Fire Authority investigators, they determined cause and origin and have determined pretty precisely where that is. They’re still trying to nail down the cause,” Poudre Fire Authority Chief Tom DeMint said. “It was not a controlled burn, it was not an illegal burn, it wasn’t a slash-pile burn. It wasn’t anybody burning on purpose.”

Doug Dempsey, who lives just north of the burn area, was evacuated Saturday and Sunday. His family was also evacuated during last summer’s High Park fire and they lost their home to a fire after the flood in 1997.

“I Can tell you when I hear chopper blades I feel like maybe we have a chance,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey says the more support we have on the ground and in the air gives his home a better chance at survival.

“In terms of protecting property and citizens there is no question about having (air support) is important,” he added.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Sen. Mark Udall worries Federal bureaucracy and not Mother Nature is keeping more planes from helping fight fires this summer.

“They need air assets and the Forest Service needs to get a new generation tankers, and we’re going to work with the Air Force to repurpose the big transport aircraft C-130s so they can fight fires this summer,” Udall said.

Udall is fighting on the federal level to get more air tankers available to Colorado and the West.

“The season starts earlier and earlier and extends further and further into the fall, so let’s get prepared, let’s get out in front of this,” he said.

Udall says his fight for more air support is moving forward and he hopes to have the extra resources available this summer.

Wildfire Resources

- Visit CBSDenver.com’s Wildfire Resources section.

- Read recent Wildfire stories.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

- See images from the most destructive wildfires (Waldo CanyonHigh Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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