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Gov. Polis, state fire agency unveil 2021 wildfire preparedness plan

Polis wildfire plan
Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Governor Jared Polis and the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control revealed the state's 2021 wildfire preparedness plan on Thursday.

Officials anticipate another tough year ahead, following one of the most active wildfire seasons in Colorado's history in 2020.

"We're having fire years, not fire seasons anymore," Director Mike Morgan said.

The state's 2021 wildfire preparedness plan is based on lessons learned in the last few years.

"Four of the five largest fires in Colorado's history have happened in the last three years."

This new strategy will increase response capacity and resources from a statewide approach, allocating $3 million for a new Type 1 helicopter, ready for use in May. That's in addition to funding for a Firehawk next summer.

"The report is, we could have conditions that are just as dry as 2011-2012, which is obviously when we had the Waldo Canyon fire and those conditions were extreme," Colorado Springs Fire Chief Randy Royal said.

Chief Royal said he's been communicating with the state on a weekly basis in preparation.

"We have worked out incorporating the county and the state in some of our bigger responses, so that for instance, the Bear Creek fire, when that occurred, we had those resources coming and it just helps us speed up the process of fire attack."

Fire mitigation efforts, which were credited in helping slow November's Bear Creek fire, Royal said, will also play a big role in the next several months.

"There's work that was done by our crews there and also city forestry and others parks that had done mitigation, which helped lay that fire down, which gave us the opportunity to protect those houses and keep them from burning."

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Jen Moynihan

Jen Moynihan is a weekend anchor and reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Jen here.


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