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Forest Service says helibase near Payson is operating as wildfire season approaches

The U.S. Forest Service says operations are underway at a new helicopter base near Payson.

Officials expect the roughly $5 million facility, which can host and fuel up to three aircraft, to play a major role in fighting wildfires.

An early assignment is for the base to support a roughly 5,500-acre  prescribed burn scheduled to start this week.

Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.