DENVER (AP) — A bill to speed up the contracting of air tankers used to fight wildfires is now law.
President Barack Obama signed the bill on Wednesday. Congress passed it last week.
The measure will help speed up the process for contracting the next generation of air tankers. It will also allow the U.S. Forest Service to buy as many as seven large air tankers outright.
Fires burning this week in New Mexico and Colorado have underscored the need to replenish the nation's aging firefighting fleet.
This week, the U.S. Forest Service announced it was increasing the existing fleet to 17 planes.
The White House says there are about 5,000 firefighters available to fight wildfires. About 1,000 are assigned to the Colorado fire, along with five tankers and other smaller aircraft.
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