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One of the most frequently asked questions we get – right after “Why haven’t pot taxes fixed all of Colorado’s problems?” – is “Why isn’t the 747 Supertaker in Colorado Springs used to extinguish Colorado’s wildfires?”

Marshall Zelinger set out to Verify whether these fires are getting the resources they need.


The largest firefighting aircraft based in Colorado remains grounded from fighting most fires in Colorado.

The Global SuperTanker 747 is not under contract with the U.S. Forest Service or the state of Colorado. It only has a contract with Colorado Springs, El Paso and Douglas Counties.

Meaning, it can only fight fires in those areas.

The U.S. Forest Service is currently accepting airtanker proposals for future contracts. Those contracts are being accepted through July 16, not very timely when it comes to the fires burning right now or soon after that date.

Just because you don’t see the largest firefighting tool in the air does not mean the best resources are not being used.

The first line of defense for a wildfire is usually a fire engine or water tender.

“That’s kind of the backbone for our initial attack force is the engines, and so most places will have fire engines staffed,” said Brian Achziger, the State Fire Management Officer for the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management.

At the same time engines are heading to a fire, there’s a good chance helicopters are following.

“All of our helicopters carry buckets, or some of our medium and large helicopters have an external tank. They can carry water or drop water,” said Achziger.

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