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Colorado wildfire takes its first fatality (+videos)

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In a letter to the Forest Service, Colorado's congressmen said the need for firefighting aircraft was "dire." Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall urged President Barack Obama to sign legislation that would allow the Forest Service to contract at least seven large air tankers to add to its fleet of 13 — which includes the two on loan from Canada.

One of the region's most potent aerial firefighting forces — two Wyoming Air National Guard C-130s fitted to drop slurry — sat on a runway in Cheyenne, 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of the Colorado fire. The reason: The U.S. Forest Service, by law, cannot call for military resources until it deems that its fleet is fully busy. It also takes 36 hours to mobilize the crews and planes, officials said.

"They just haven't thrown the switch yet because they feel like there are adequate resources available," said Mike Ferris, a spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

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.

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