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State of Colorado plans to take over firefighting station at Pueblo airport

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO)-- The Colorado Divison of Fire Prevention and Control is planning on renting out a firefighting reload base and office space at the Pueblo Memorial Airport.

According to DFPC Deputy Chief Phil Daniels, the U.S. Forest Service previously leased the same space for over 25 years, but the USFS recently relocated to a brand new station at the Colorado Springs airport.

Daniels said the vacancy as a great opportunity because there wasn't another air tanker base in southeast Colorado.

Daniels grew up in Southern Colorado himself and remembers when aircraft would come all the way from California to battle a fire.

"I remember you know air tankers coming from California you know when you're waiting two to three hours for an airplane. If you can say it can be there in 15 minutes, it will make a huge difference," said Phil Daniels.

According to Daniels, the state currently has 4 large air tanker bases with capacity to hold larger aircraft and then six or seven bases that can accommodate the smaller planes.

"Pueblo is kind of a hidden gem," he added, "because they have a very large airport, a very large ramp, and that's one of the reasons why the forest service used it for so long, because air traffic was fairly low, and there's plenty of places to park aircraft."

According to Daniels, it still has to go through the procurement process with the state of Colorado but expects no hurdles with moving this agreement forward. He expects everything to be signed in the next couple of days.

Daniels said the station could be active by as early as this fall and as late as next spring.

Both the Pueblo City Council and the State of Colorado need to give final approval to the lease agreement which is expected to happen in the next few weeks.

The agreement pays the city about $500 a month in rent.

It continues through mid-2023 with options to renew after that.

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Barbara Fox

Barbara is a reporter based out of Pueblo for KRDO

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