Former Republican Gov. Bill Owens says President Barack Obama's visit to fire-ravaged Colorado is a distraction.

Owens said Thursday that Obama's planned Colorado Springs visit diverts "time, equipment, energy and resources" from fighting wildfires. Obama is visiting Friday.

The White House responded with a statement saying that Obama and his team are "are always sensitive to ensuring his visits to emergency response areas do not in any way impede the response." The statement says Obama wants to thank first responders and ask if they need additional resources.

Owens was governor in 2002 during another historic wildfire season. He says he declined an offer for a visit then from President George W. Bush then. Current Gov. John Hickenlooper says Obama made clear he didn't want his visit to be a distraction.