Airstrip upgrades to drastically enhance firefighting capabilities

CEDAR CITY — The Color County Interagency Fire Management team — a partnership between various federal and state agencies tasked with managing and fighting wildfires — has announced plans to upgrade their air center in Cedar City.

The planned upgrades will include the addition of four Type 1 and three Type 2 helicopter pads, as well as a reinforced and lengthened runway, according to a statement from the Bureau of Land Management. The upgraded runway will be 1,400 feet longer to accommodate newer and larger firefighting aircraft. The additional length will also allow aircraft to expend less fuel during takeoff, increasing their potential range, as well as their capacity to carry additional flame-retardant chemicals to put out fires.

BLM Assistant Aviation Unit Manager Matt Huse said the Cedar City air center is vital to fire management efforts in the area.

“Geographically, Cedar City is the ideal location to expand arial fire suppression capabilities,” Huse said the statement issued by the BLM. “Our firefighting coverage area will greatly expand, increasing the efficiency and capabilities of large aircraft using this air center.”

Huse also said that the efforts by Cedar City public officials have been crucial to the success of the project, which will ultimately benefit much of the southwestern part of the United States. He said the city has been working progressively to facilitate the partnership between various state and federal entities.

“It represents a huge success for many different agencies that are working towards the same goal,” he said.

The expansion is slated to start in May of 2014, pending an environmental assessment.

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Email: mflynn@stgnews.com

Twitter: @mflynnSTGN

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • Bender December 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Headline writer: “Airstrip” implies a facility with only a runway — no ancillary facilities. Not an apt description for Cedar City Airport.

  • bob December 7, 2013 at 1:12 am

    I’m happy to see the upgrade as the air support is most critical to the containing of the fires. We cannot bring back the heros who lost there life protecting ours. We can and must do somting to protect those heros who remain. God bless them all

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