COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) – The Colorado Springs Airport and U.S. Forest Service have announced plans to spend $17 million to build a regional firefighting base at the airport. The base will allow air tankers to load retardant to battle fires in five states and parts of 10 others. A joint statement by Colorado Springs and the Forest Service says construction is scheduled to begin in April. It will include offices, a storage building for retardant, an area where retardant will be mixed, and seven stations to load the retardant onto waiting aircraft. Officials say the permanent base is expected to open next year.