COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP/CBS4) – The Colorado Springs Airport and U.S. Forest Service have announced plans to spend $17 million to build a regional firefighting base at the airport. The base will allow air tankers to load retardant to battle fires in five states and parts of 10 others.

A joint statement by Colorado Springs and the Forest Service says construction is scheduled to begin in April. Both agencies are set to pay for the initiative, currently budgeted at approximately $20 million.

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(credit: U.S. Forest Service)

It will include offices, a storage building for retardant, an area where retardant will be mixed, and seven stations to load the retardant onto waiting aircraft.

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This project will have the ability to serve a 600-mile radius.

The airport will use the base as a de-icing area for commercial aircraft during the winter months.

Officials say the permanent base is expected to open next year.

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