Some of the smaller airports in Southern Colorado are proving to be a big help in fighting fires in the area.
Since becoming an Air Tanker base back in 2005, the Fremont County Airport has played a part in containing some of Colorado’s major fires.
“The Mason Gulch, the Whitmore Fire, the Copper Gulch Fire–those were all major events, and even the Hayman Fire,” Fremont County Airport Manager Richard Baker.
It’s closer to the Pike and San Isabel National Forest–it cuts down their ferry time,” Baker added.
“You can load up with your fluids and get there, dump it, and get back. And this is central to where the fires have been it seems like,” said longtime Fremont County Airport Advisory Board member Robert Henderson.
That quick refueling turnaround time has been important for blazes like the Fort Carson Fire.
Already this week, four Single-Engine Airtankers have touched down on the base to fuel up on retardant.
One remained on the base Tuesday for maintenance repairs.
“They took 21 loads of retardant from out of here to help make a fire line along the fire around Fort Carson Reservation,” said Baker.
It’s those fuel sales that have been the big economic driver in the success of this county airport.
“I’ve seen a lot of airports close and that’s why I’m here. I want to see our airport to continue to flourish. Basically, it pretty much pays for itself. For it being a county-owned airport, that’s pretty good,” Henderson said.
As for the Hayden Pass Fire, Airport Manger Richard Baker says aircraft are being directed to refuel at the Trinidad Airport.
But the Fremont County Airport is on standby, if need be.
Having pumped nearly 140,000 gallons of retardant back in 2012, Baker says the tanker base is more that ready to assist in a fire of that size.