Colorado wildfire takes its first fatality (+videos)
The Colorado fire has killed one woman, and destroyed at least 118 structures near Fort Collins. Colorado lawmakers are calling for more federal help to fight the uncontained wildfire.
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Colorado was using five of 13 air tankers available nationally, said Forest Service spokesman Steve Segin.
Meanwhile, helicopters were used to suck water from a reservoir and drop it on nearby homes dangerously close to the flames.
Evacuees expressed gratitude for the help.
"They're doing the best they can," said Barb Hermsen as she watched a helicopter make daring raids through smoke and flame. "We know how much they have to go through, and where they're going — man, it's crazy."
In New Mexico, firefighters used a break in the hot and windy weather and got new air and ground support to battle a fast-moving wildfire that charred tens of thousands of acres and forced hundreds of residents to leave their homes in the southern part of the state.
An estimated 35 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the blaze, and fire managers expect that number to grow once damage assessments are done.
Elsewhere in New Mexico, firefighters made slow progress against the largest wildfire in state history. The blaze has charred 435 square miles (1,126 square kilometers) of forest since it was sparked by lightning in mid-May, and was 37 percent contained Monday.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has long insisted the federal government has enough resources to respond to a year-round wildfire season driven by drought, heat, decades of fighting forest fires rather than letting them run their natural course, and bark beetle pine tree kill.
"We have enough resources at this time to be able to deal with the fires we currently are dealing with and what we expect to have to deal with the rest of this fire season," Tidwell told The Associated Press last week. He emphasized that the forest service has the authority to transfer funds from other accounts to meet firefighting costs in any given year.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.