In response to an emergency request from Colorado's governor, Utah Governor Gary R. Herbert has authorized the deployment of Utah National Guard troops and helicopters to help fight wildfires raging near Colorado Springs.
In accordance with the state-to-state Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), Governor Herbert has approved Colorado's preliminary request for two Utah National Guard helicopters and crews suppress Colorado fires for 72 hours, beginning Saturday morning.
Colorado emergency officials are finalizing official request documentation and details now. Additional information may be forthcoming.
"With so many homes lost and thousands more threatened, Colorado's tragedy is devastating local communities and thousands of displaced families," said Governor Herbert. "Sending our neighbors some help in this crisis is the right thing to do."
The current Colorado wildfires are considered the worst in the state's history, with more than 350 homes lost, two people killed and more than 39,000 residents forced to evacuate. On Wednesday, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper declared disaster emergencies for three fires, the largest being the Black Forest Fire. Governor Hickenlooper thanked Governor Herbert for Utah's support in a phone call this morning.
"While these resources are deployed to Colorado, the Utah National Guard has three additional aircraft and crews on standby, ready to cover any emergency needs in Utah," said Col. Keith Squires, division director of Utah Emergency Management. "When these emergencies occur, every state goes on standby to assist however needed. If something were to occur here in Utah while our crews are out, other states will be mobilized into action."
With multiple fires starting on Thursday in Utah, Governor Herbert issued the following caution:
"Given the dry, hot and windy conditions statewide, we must be vigilant in practicing fire safety and good common sense. That means using extra caution while camping, target shooting, and recreating outdoors. It also means ensuring structures are free of debris, hot vehicles are away from brush and dry grass, and fireworks are used in safe zones in accordance with local restrictions."