Air forces take aim at fires

Air forces take aim at fires

Lighter winds help crews hold back area blazes
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An air tanker, heli-tanker and small airplane dropped water and fire retardant on the Vallecito Fire on Thursday, protecting homes in the Lake Vista Estates neighborhood.
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An air tanker, heli-tanker and small airplane dropped water and fire retardant on the Vallecito Fire on Thursday, protecting homes in the Lake Vista Estates neighborhood.
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Jay Godson, left, superintendent of the San Juan Interagency Hotshot Crew, Mark Stiles, center, forest supervisor for the San Juan National Forest, and incident commander Dennis Fagel, direct air drops on the Vallecito Fire on Thursday afternoon.
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Water was used in drops on the Vallecito Fire on Thursday in addition to fire retardant because the force of falling water is more effective in penetrating fire smoldering deep within fallen logs and other fuels, said Mark Stiles, forest supervisor with the San Juan National Forest.
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Alex Padilla works the pumps Thursday as a ground crew fills a P2V tanker with fire retardant. A fill-up takes about 7 minutes at the Durango Air Tanker Base.
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Pilot Parker Lucas, with Neptune Aviation, waits for a fill-up from Mike Marone, left, and Larry Houghgeling on Thursday at the Durango Air Tanker Base. His Air Tractor airplane holds 700 gallons of fire retardant. The single-engine plane is one of two fighting the Little East Fire.
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Mike Marone, left, and Larry Houghgeling, fill up a P2V with about 2,000 gallons of fire retardant Thursday at the Durango Air Tanker Base. The tanker base had closed last month, but it was reopened when blazes broke out in the region this month.
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Pilot Parker Lucas, with Neptune Aviation Services Inc., waits on a fill-up from Mike Marone, left, and Larry Houghgeling on Thursday at the Durango Air Tanker Base. His Air Tractor plane holds about 700 gallons of fire retardant. The single-engine plane is one of two fighting the Little East Fire. Two larger air tankers are fighting the Vallecito Fire. The Durango tanker base had closed in September, but it was reopened to help fight the October fires.
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Chris Anderson of Fort Lewis Mesa Fire Protection District reviews a map of the Little East Fire burn area Thursday with fellow firefighters Will Walsh and Doug Ramsey. The fire is burning in a steep canyon just west of Cherry Creek. The blaze is believed to have sparked last week from a lightning strike.
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