By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4)– In preparation for what’s shaping up to be a busy fire season ahead, a federally contracted air tanker has been ordered to stage along Colorado’s Front Range.

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“It will be here until further notice, based at the Jefferson County Air Tanker Base at Rocky Mountain Metro Airport,” said Lawrence Lujan with the U.S. Forest Service.

(credit: CBS)

Within an hour of Tanker 12’s arrival on Friday it was called to fight a wildfire above Idaho Springs.

The BAE 146, a next generation air tanker, made two drops on the Santa Fe fire, each containing 3,000 gallons of fire retardant.

(credit: CBS)

It took only about 15 minutes for Tanker 12 to take off, drop retardant and return to the base for another load.

Ground crews were able to turn the plane around in less than 10 minutes.

(credit: CBS)

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A single engine air tanker carrying 800 gallons of retardant and a spotter plane also assisted in the fight.

Wildfire Resources

– Visit’s Living With Wildfire section.

Wildfire Photo Galleries

– See images from the most destructive wildfires (Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, High Park and Fourmile) and largest wildfire (Hayman) in Colorado history.

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Meteorologist Chris Spears writes about stories related to weather and climate in Colorado. Check out his bio, connect with him on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.