A military air tanker fighting wildfires in South Dakota lost control on Sunday and crashed. The White Draw Fire had burned through 4,200 acres since Friday and was 30% contained during the time of the crash.
In a statement released by the military officials said of the devastating accident:
“There are no details on the status of the aircrew available at this time.”
An investigation was underway the moment the accident was reported.
In a season full of super fires this accident was the second for an air tanker, two pilots were killed on June 3 in western Utah when during their second run they crashed into mountainous terrain. That fire which began on June 1 was fully contained by June 9.
With dry humid conditions engulfing much of the United States with drought-type conditions this Spring and Summer officials have been forced to deal with numerous wildfires that have destroyed tens of thousands of acres, many homes and claimed several lives.
In Colorado the Waldo Canyon Fire is believed to be 55% contained with most evacuation orders in Colorado Springs lifted. In the meantime fires still continue to spread in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and other states.
In the meantime the loss of another air tanker is bad news for forestry officials, according to NPR:
“In 2000, the Forest Service had contracts with private companies for 43 air tankers. Today, that number is nine.”
The problem with air tanker contracts comes down to age, while there use to be dozens of the plans in the skies many have been retired, leaving less support when needed.