Jun 15, 2012 - The Associated PressCHEYENNE -- President Barack Obama signed a bill this week hastening the addition of seven large tanker planes to the nation's rundown aerial firefighting fleet, at a cost of $24 million.
The same day, two C-130 military transport planes designed for that very purpose sat on a tarmac in Cheyenne, shrouded in an eye-watering haze from a raging Colorado wildfire just a 15-minute flight away.
In all, eight workhorse C-130s stand ready to fight destructive wildfires around the country -- but all are grounded due to rules governing the use of the nation's aerial firefighting resources. The new purchases, meanwhile, won't help firefighters battling destructive blazes in Colorado, New Mexico and elsewhere in the West for weeks, if not months.
"Getting into large, multiple wildfire scenarios, there's just not enough (aircraft) to go around in the current state," said Chuck Bushey, past president of the International Association of Wildland Fire.
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.