GOP lawmakers push for state-owned firefighting fleet

DENVER - Colorado Republicans want the state to buy an aerial firefighting fleet to help combat wildfires, but it's an idea Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper does not support.

Republicans are introducing legislation that would require the state to buy four military planes and three helicopters to aid firefighting efforts. The lawmakers will be talking about their plan Friday morning.

A similar bill was introduced last year.

California has a fleet of nearly 50 aircraft that can be used to battle wildfires. The fleet can respond to a wildfire anywhere in the state within 20 minutes.

Colorado has rented planes in the past, during fire season. But it's only been a few planes, never a fleet.

On Thursday, Hickenlooper said having a state-owned fleet would be too costly and that the idea needs further study.

Colorado has endured destructive wildfire seasons recently. The worst fires have included blazes in Colorado Springs and Fort Collins, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes and killed five people during the past two years.

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