Firefighting supertanker deployed to California |

Firefighting supertanker deployed to California

Updates on fires burning across Colorado, southern Wyoming

FILE - In this May 5, 2016, file photo, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, left, greets the flight crew of the Boeing 747-400 Global SuperTanker after it dropped half its capacity of 19,400-gallons of water over the airfield during a ceremony at the Colorado Springs, Colo., Airport demonstrating firefighting capabilities of the world's largest firefighting plane. Scott McLean, deputy chief of California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Saturday, July 7, 2018, the supertanker is undergoing final checks at McClellan Air Base outside Sacramento. Once cleared by the state and the U.S. Forest Service, the plane can be sent to fires anywhere in the state. (Christian Murdock/The Gazette via AP, File)
DENVER (AP) — A Colorado-based Boeing 747-400 supertanker has been deployed to California to help fight wildfires that have destroyed dozens of buildings and caused at least one death.Scott McLean is deputy chief of California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. He said Saturday the supertanker is undergoing final checks at McClellan Air Base outside Sacramento. Once cleared by the state and the U.S. Forest Service, the plane can be sent to fires anywhere in California.

Both McLean and the aircraft’s owner, Global SuperTanker Services of Colorado Springs, Colorado, say software issues must be resolved before the plane is activated under a call-when-needed contract. The aircraft can carry 19,200 gallons of water, retardant or suppressant.

Global SuperTanker CEO Jim Wheeler said in a statement that the company also has been negotiating with Colorado, which like many Western states is battling several large wildfires.

The plane first flew missions last year in California.

Meanwhile, fire crews in southern Wyoming have contained 90 percent of a wildfire that’s been burning in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest since June 10.

Incident Cmdr. Steve Markason reported Saturday that trees continue to torch inside fire lines and that residents will see multiple columns of smoke in the area as the weather heats up in coming days.

Wyoming’s Albany County lifted pre-evacuation notices for several neighborhoods late Friday.

The fire has blackened about 33 square miles. Medicine Bow forest officials are asking the public for any information that can help their investigation into the fire’s cause.

It was first reported near the community of Mountain Home, about 25 miles north of Walden, Colorado.

Temperatures in the 90s and gusty winds have increased the size of a wildfire in northwestern Colorado’s sagebrush country to 21 square miles.

The fire about 32 miles north of Craig has destroyed two structures. It’s about 30 percent contained.

Some 30 miles west of Craig, firefighters worked through the night and into Saturday to protect 30 structures from a small fire near the town of Maybell.

The Bureau of Land Management says the fire was reported late Friday and was burning on sagebrush and grassland.

Firefighters are making progress in containing several of nine major wildfires in Colorado, though a mix of hot weather and rains in the south and southwest are bringing fresh challenges.

Crews have contained 50 percent of a southwestern Colorado fire that has blackened 85 square miles north of Durango. Authorities said Saturday that afternoon storms could produce flash floods and mudslides in burn scars.

In southern Colorado’s Costilla and Huerfano counties, firefighters have encircled about 45 percent of a 167-square-mile fire that destroyed more than 130 homes. A key section of U.S. Highway 160 near La Veta was set to reopen Saturday.

Firefighters from 20 states are battling an 8-square-mile wildfire in central Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley. Commanders hope for one-third containment late Sunday.

In central Colorado’s Park County, crews have encircled one-third of a spotty 20-square-mile fire that forced the Buffalo Creek Wilderness to close. A 15-mile stretch of busy U.S. Highway 285 between Fairplay and Antero Junction reopened Saturday.

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