Smoke, flames at Aspen airport training drill Friday |

Smoke, flames at Aspen airport training drill Friday

Staff report

Upper Roaring Fork Valley residents who spot flames or smoke rising from the Aspen airport this morning should not call emergency dispatchers, a law enforcement official said Thursday.

The apparent mayhem — which will include a plane fuselage on fire, scores of “victims” and frantic activity — will be a Federal Aviation Administration-mandated disaster training drill, said Alex Burchetta, a commander with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

“If people see fire or smoke coming from the airport, it is from the drill and they shouldn’t call 911,” Burchetta said.

On the off chance a disaster occurs at the same time, area residents will be alerted through the Pitkin Alert system, he said.

The drill, which must occur every three years, will simulate the crash of the largest plane that flies into the airport — a Bombardier CRJ700, said Fil Meraz, airport director of operations. It will include a fuselage that can be set afire using propane, as well as 55 people who will play the victims, he said.

The drill is scheduled to begin about 9 a.m. and run until about noon, Burchetta said. It will include public safety personnel from various valley agencies, as well as the airport, Meraz said.