Second Person Dies In Wildfire Plane Crash

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

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UPDATE: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The military says five Air Force tankers are resuming firefighting flights after a deadly crash of one tanker over the weekend.

U.S. Northern Command says the flights will resume Tuesday.

The entire fleet of eight planes was grounded after a C-130 crashed Sunday while fighting a wildfire in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The C-130 was from an Air National Guard wing based in Charlotte, N.C., and was carrying a crew of six. The crash killed at least two crew members and injured others.

UPDATE: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Air Force has grounded air tankers that had been fighting wildfires, as investigators try to determine what caused the deadly crash of a military cargo plane fighting a blaze in South Dakota over the weekend.

The decision to put seven C-130s on "operational hold" removes a third of the firefighting air fleet from the skies during one of the busiest and most destructive wildfire seasons ever to hit the West. Fourteen federally contracted heavy tankers are still flying.

Meanwhile, crews continue to make progress against the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs. More residents have been allowed back home, leaving about 2,000 people still under evacuation orders as of last night. The most fire is now about 70 percent contained.

To the north, the High Park fire, which destroyed 259 homes west of Fort Collins, is fully contained.

Elsewhere, two new fires have broken out on National Forest lands in Utah. Officials have ordered the evacuation of about 100 cabins in the southern part of the state.

In Montana, the 290-square-mile Ash Creek fire jumped a state highway yesterday, triggering evacuations there.

And erratic winds are spreading three large forest fires across Wyoming.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard has confirmed a second death in the weekend crash of an Air Force tanker that was helping fight a wildfire in the Black Hills.

Daugaard's statement Tuesday did not identify the second victim. The family of Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal of Mooresville, N.C., identified him as a victim on Monday.

The C-130 from an Air National Guard wing based in Charlotte, N.C., was carrying a crew of six when it crashed Sunday evening while battling the White Draw Fire near Edgemont, in southwest South Dakota, that now encompasses nearly 8 square miles.

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