Authorities in Utah have confirmed that a firefighting plane dropping retardant on a remote wildfire along the Utah-Nevada line crashed Sunday killing both crew members aboard.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Captain Todd Neal Tompkins and co-pilot Ronnie Edwin Chambless — both from Boise, Idaho — were flying a P-2V heavy air tanker that went down about 2pm in the area of the White Rock Fire, a blaze sparked by a lightning strike in eastern Nevada on Friday.
Following the crash, ground crews and helicopter crew members worked to push the flames back to allow first responders to reach the site of the wreckage.
Iron County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Jody Edwards said deputies drove and hiked for more than an hour to reach the site and confirm that the pilots had died.
Edwards added that the fire later overwhelmed the crash site. Remaining crews were pulled off the fire lines after the incident.
“To have them working on the fire lines after this is more than we would like to ask firefighters,” said Don Smurthwaite, spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. “It’s obviously a horrifying and tragic event.”
For more information on the Firefighting plane crash in Utah, watch following video report by Fox News 5:
The White Rock Fire, which has grown to over 5,000 acres since Friday, is burning in rugged terrain covered by pinion-pine and juniper trees, sagebrush and grass. The Daily Mail reports that in 2012 alone, Utah has had 96 fires that have burned more than 14,000 acres.