BELLVUE, Colo. — Massive wildfires in drought-parched Colorado and New Mexico tested the resources of state and federal crews Monday and underscored the need to replenish an aging U.S. aerial firefighting fleet needed to combat a year-round fire season.

Wyoming diverted personnel and aircraft from two fires there to help with a 64-square-mile wildfire in northern Colorado. Canada also lent two aerial bombers to fight the Colorado blaze following the recent crash of a U.S. tanker in Utah. And an elite federal firefighting crew arrived to try to begin containing a fire that destroyed at least 118 structures.

All told, about 600 firefighters will be battling the fire some 15 miles west of Fort Collins by Tuesday, said incident commander Bill Hahnenberg.

"We are a very high priority nationally. We can get all the resources we want and need," he said.

The U.S. Forest Service said late Monday it would add more aircraft to its aerial firefighting fleet, contracting one air tanker from Alaska and four from Canada. Two more air tankers were being activated in California.

The announcement came after Colorado's U.S. House delegation demanded that the agency deploy more resources to the fire, which was totally uncontained and has forced hundreds of people to abandon their homes.

The Larimer County sheriff's office confirmed Monday that one person died in the fire.

The family of Linda Steadman, 62, had reported her missing after the fire started Saturday, sheriff's officials said. Her home received two evacuation notices that appeared to go to her answering machine, and a firefighter who tried to get past a locked gate to her home to warn her was chased out by flames that he later saw engulf her home, Sheriff Justin Smith said.

Investigators found remains in her burned home Monday that haven't been positively identified yet, but her family issued a statement saying Steadman died in the cabin she loved, Smith said.

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.

The temporary additions to the firefighting aircraft fleet will make 17 air tankers available to the forest service, which has deployed 10 air tankers, 62 helicopters and 4,000 personnel to more than 100 fires nationwide.

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 north of the Colorado fire. The reason: The 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.

"They're doing the best they can," said Barb Hermsen as she watched a helicopter make daring raids through smoke and flame to protect homes. "We know how much they have to go through, and where they're going – man, it's crazy."

In New Mexico, firefighters used a break in the hot and windy weather and got new air and ground support to battle a fast-moving wildfire that charred tens of thousands of acres and forced hundreds of residents to leave their homes in the southern part of the state.

Smoke filled the air in the mountain community of Ruidoso as evacuees gathered at a high school gymnasium to get an update on the lightning-sparked fire in the Sierra Blanca mountain range. The blaze exploded over the weekend and reached more than 54 square miles by Monday.

An estimated 35 structures have been damaged or destroyed by the blaze, and fire managers expect that number to grow once damage assessments are done.

Elsewhere in New Mexico, firefighters made slow progress against the largest wildfire in state history. The blaze has charred 435 square miles of forest since it was sparked by lightning in mid-May, and was 37 percent contained Monday.

Arizona's state forestry division dispatched two water tenders and 15 fire trucks to New Mexico, which also welcomed the arrival of a DC-10 jet that can lay a 100-yard-wide, mile-long line of retardant or water.

Fire bosses in New Mexico and Arizona ordered more elite crews, engines and air support from the Southwest Coordination Center in Albuquerque, where director Kenan Jaycox said resources are approaching full capacity.

"It's a balancing game," Jaycox said.

At least 18 large wildfires are burning in nine U.S. states, forcing the reshuffling of fire crews and aircraft. The National Interagency Fire Center said 4,000 of 15,000 federal firefighters are currently deployed at fires around the country.

Because aircraft had been scarce, federal fire managers asked Wyoming to send National Guard helicopters to a 4.5-square-mile wildfire in Guernsey State Park. In nearby Medicine Bow National Forest, crews containing a 13-square-mile fire sent air support to Colorado.

Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has long insisted the federal government has enough resources to respond to a year-round wildfire season driven by drought, heat, decades of fighting forest fires rather than letting them run their natural course, and bark beetle pine tree kill.

"We have enough resources at this time to be able to deal with the fires we currently are dealing with and what we expect to have to deal with the rest of this fire season," Tidwell told The Associated Press last week. He emphasized that the agency has the authority to transfer funds from other accounts to meet firefighting costs in any given year.

Some 1,459 square miles have burned across the country this year – less than the same period in 2011, when 6,327 square miles burned.

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Associated Press writers Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, N.M.; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Ariz.; and Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyo., contributed to this report.

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  • This image provided Aug. 11, 2012 by Chips Fire shows a wildfire inside Northern California's Plumas National Forest. Strong winds and low humidity have helped this wildfire increase to nearly 47 square miles.(AP Photo/Chips Fire)

  • Flames burn near Highway 48 and HW 38 junction east of Drumright, Okla., on Saturday, Aug 4, 2012. Emergency management officials have ordered evacuations of homes in several areas as wildfires burn across the state. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Services says no injuries have been reported. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, Tom Gilbert)

  • Fire burns above Hidden Valley Ranch where fire crews worked to halt progression of the Taylor Brige Fire on Thursday, August 16, 2012, near Cle Elum, Wash. The Taylor Bridge Fire has forced hundreds to evacuate and has burned dozens of homes near Cle Elum, Wash. (AP Photo/seattlepi.com, Joshua Trujillo) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; SEATTLE TIMES OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT; TV OUT

  • In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2012, flames surround a house on a hillside above Bettas Road near Cle Elum, Wash. A spokesman for the Washington state Department of Natural Resources said the house survived the fire because of the defensible space around the structure with the placement of the driveway and the lack of trees and brush up against the house, preventing flames from reaching it. Firefighters are still working to control the Bridge Taylor Fire and said that it's 25 percent contained. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • In this photo taken Aug. 9, 2012 and released by the San Diego County Fire Authority, Cal Fire firefighters attack a blaze near Chihuahua Valley Road in Northern San Diego County. A wildfire ignited by lightning continues to burn out of control in the highlands northeast of Warner Springs, Calif. State fire Battalion Chief Nick Schuler says the 900 acre fire was active overnight and was only 5 percent contained early Friday. (AP Photo/Kevin Pack/San Diego County Fire Authority)

  • As smoke rises behind, firefighter Jose Barajas hefts his pack as he gets his equipment ready Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, near Cle Elum, Wash. Crews fighting the large blaze in central Washington hope to increase containment levels by Wednesday evening, but are keeping a wary eye on weather conditions later in the week. The fire burning near Cle Elum has burned dozens of homes and caused about 900 people to evacuate. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

  • A house is engulfed in flames near Highway 48 and HW 38 junction east of Drumright, Okla., on Saturday, Aug 4, 2012. Emergency management officials have ordered evacuations of homes in several areas as wildfires burn across the state. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Services says no injuries have been reported. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, Tom Gilbert)

  • Smoke fills the area as Logan Renner, 17, walks through ashes toward an opening in what was his family's home Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 in Luther, Okla. While residents of one Oklahoma town sifted through their charred belongings Saturday to salvage what they could after a roaring wildfire that may have been deliberately set, residents in two other towns were being ordered to evacuate their homes. The fire near Luther, which is about 25 miles northeast of Oklahoma City, destroyed nearly five dozen homes and other buildings before firefighters were able to gain some measure of control Saturday.(AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel) TABLOIDS OUT

  • Smoke is visible from Tie Siding, Wyo., as a wildfire burns northwest of Fort Collins, Colo., on Saturday, June 9, 2012. The cause of the fire is not yet known. (AP Photo/Laramie Daily Boomerang, Andy Carpenean)

  • This undated photo provided by the McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge shows wildfires burning in the refuge. An official with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says multiple wildfires have closed the Texas wildlife refuge on the Gulf coast. (AP Photo/McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge)

  • This photo provided by the Boise National Forest shows the Springs Fire, 4 miles east of Banks, Idaho, along Highway 17. So far it's burned more than 600 acres, but fire officials said Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012 that it is 30 percent contained. (AP Photo/Boise National Forest)

  • In this Sunday Aug. 12, 2012 photo provided by the Joshua Tree National Park, a 300-acre fire believed to have been sparked by lightning from Sunday's thunderstorms burns in Joshua Tree National Park east of Palm Springs. A 220-acre blaze is near Vallecito in San Diego County, also believed to have been sparked by lightning from Sunday's thunderstorms, is burning out of control but no homes are nearby. (AP Photo/Joshua Tree National Park)

  • In this Aug. 12, 2012 photo provided by the Wyoming State Forestry Division, a column of smoke rises from the wildfire burning about 10 miles south of Glenrock in central Wyoming. The fire has burned about 6,500 acres since it was discovered last Friday. Officials say the fire was about 20 percent contained and showed little activity on Monday. (AP Photo/Wyoming State Forestry Division)

  • This photo provided by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs shows the Alpine Lake Fire burning Monday, Aug. 13, 2012, in the Shoshone Forest on the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming. The fire forced the helicopter evacuation of five people from a backcountry outfitter camp on Tuesday. They were safely extracted. Firefighters have not been able to suppress the fire so far because it is located in extremely rugged country. (AP Photo/U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs)

  • Smoke billows from the Little Bear fire in southeastern New Mexico near Ruidoso, Saturday, June 9, 2012. Spanning only a few acres on Wednesday, the Little Bear fire began to grow Friday as spot fires formed outside established fire lines due to windy conditions. By Saturday morning, about 10,000 acres had been charred northwest of the mountain community of Ruidoso. (AP Photo/Roswell Daily Record, Mark Wilson)

  • A house is engulfed in flames near Highway 48 and HW 38 junction east of Drumright, Okla,, on Saturday, Aug 4, 2012. Emergency management officials have ordered evacuations of homes in several areas as wildfires burn across the state. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Services says no injuries have been reported. (AP Photo/Tulsa World, Tom Gilbert)

  • Flames leap into the air as area firefighters fight a wildfire on Cemetery Road east of 120th on Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, east of Norman, Okla. A wildfire stirred by high winds sweeping through rural woodlands just south of the Oklahoma City area has set at a number of homes on fire. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Steve Sisney) TABLOIDS OUT

  • A horse grazes in a pasture along Colorado County Road 80C in Larimer County, Colo., as smoke billows from a wildfire Saturdaym June 9, 2012, northwest of Fort Collins, Colo. The cause of the fire is not yet known. (AP Photo/Laramie Daily Boomerang, Andy Carpenean)

  • Smoke billows from the Little Bear fire in southeastern New Mexico near Ruidoso, Saturday, June 9, 2012. Spanning only a few acres on Wednesday, the Little Bear fire began to grow Friday as spot fires formed outside established fire lines due to windy conditions. By Saturday morning, about 10,000 acres had been charred northwest of the mountain community of Ruidoso. (AP Photo/Roswell Daily Record, Mark Wilson)

  • A truck drives down the road as smoke billows in the background from the Little Bear fire in southeastern New Mexico near Ruidoso, Saturday, June 9, 2012. Spanning only a few acres on Wednesday, the Little Bear fire began to grow Friday as spot fires formed outside established fire lines due to windy conditions. By Saturday morning, about 10,000 acres had been charred northwest of the mountain community of Ruidoso. (AP Photo/Roswell Daily Record, Mark Wilson)

  • A sign posted to a tree in Featherville, Idaho on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012 expresses gratitude for firefighters who are battling the 100-square-mile Trinity Ridge Fire burning less than five miles away. Residents have been warned they will likely have to evacuate. (AP Photo/Jessie L. Bonner)