Wildfires in Colo., NM burn out of control

June 12, 2012 • National News

A swing overlooks a burned home located on Wolf Springs Loop near Ruidoso, N.M., on Monday June 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Albuquerque Journal, Adolphe Pierre-Louis)

BELLVUE, Colo. (AP) — Massive wildfires in drought-parched Colorado and New Mexico tested the resources of state and federal crews Monday and underscored the need to replenish an aging U.S. aerial firefighting fleet needed to combat a year-round fire season.

Wyoming diverted personnel and aircraft from two fires there to help with a 64-square-mile wildfire in northern Colorado. Canada also lent two aerial bombers to fight the Colorado blaze following the recent crash of a U.S. tanker in Utah. And an elite federal firefighting crew arrived to try to begin containing a fire that destroyed at least 118 structures.

All told, about 600 firefighters will be battling the fire some 15 miles west of Fort Collins by Tuesday, said incident commander Bill Hahnenberg.

“We are a very high priority nationally. We can get all the resources we want and need,” he said.

The U.S. Forest Service said late Monday it would add more aircraft to its aerial firefighting fleet, contracting one air tanker from Alaska and four from Canada. Two more air tankers were being activated in California.

The announcement came after Colorado’s U.S. House delegation demanded that the agency deploy more resources to the fire, which was totally uncontained and has forced hundreds of people to abandon their homes.

The Larimer County sheriff’s office confirmed Monday that one person died in the fire.

The family of Linda Steadman, 62, had reported her missing after the fire started Saturday, sheriff’s officials said. Her home received two Login to read more

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