July 10, 2021 – In Breaking News – AZ Central
Two firefighters died after a plane responding to a wildfire northeast of Wikieup crashed on Saturday afternoon, according to the federal Bureau of Land Management.
The accident occurred at about noon and involved an air attack aircraft performing aerial reconnaissance and command and control over a wildfire dubbed the Cedar Basin Fire, which ignited Friday evening.
The plane performing aerial reconnaissance acts as a “director” for aviation resources responding to a wildfire, said Dolores Garcia, a spokesperson for the bureau.
Garcia also said these firefighters are one of the earliest resources responding to a wildfire that provides “eyes in the sky” for situational awareness and to help firefighters on the ground.
The two crew members on board died, according to the bureau, which is working with other local, state and federal agencies to respond to the fatal aircraft accident associated with the Cedar Basin Fire.
Additional information will be provided pending next of kin notification, the bureau said in a statement on Saturday evening. No additional details were immediately available.
“Our hearts go out to the families of our brave wildland firefighters,” the statement said.
Fire ignited Friday evening
According to InciWeb, a government wildfire tracking service, the Cedar Basin Fire was reported on Friday after 6 p.m. as a result of lightning near Wikieup, which is about two hours northeast of Phoenix.
The fire has burned about 300 acres as of Saturday afternoon and was fueled by brush and grass. About 45 personnel were fighting the fire, officials said.
Due to nightfall, terrain with limited access and thunderstorm activity, resources were unable to get a good visual on Friday, InciWeb said.
On Saturday, Weaver Mountain Helitack performed a reconnaissance of the area and found an active fire 14 miles east of Wikieup and 20 miles northwest of Bagdad.
(The plane was engaged in aerial reconnaissance over the Cedar Basin fire when it crashed on Saturday, the Bureau of Land Management said. Two people who were helping to fight a wildfire in western Arizona died on Saturday when their plane crashed, the Bureau of Land Management said. The plane’s two crew members were performing aerial reconnaissance and command and control over the Cedar Basin fire, which began on Friday and has expanded over about 300 acres near Wikieup, Ariz., an unincorporated town roughly halfway between Phoenix and Las Vegas. The Bureau of Land Management said in a statement that it would release more information about the crash after relatives of the victims had been notified. “Our hearts go out to the families of our brave wildland firefighters,” the statement read. Plane crashes are one of the many risks faced by people who fight wildfires. In September, a pilot was killed when a plane that was dropping retardant on a fire in Idaho crashed. Early last year, three Americans died when their plane went down south of Canberra, the Australian capital, where they were helping to fight intense wildfires. Dozens of large blazes have raged in Arizona and other western states in recent weeks. Wildfire seasons have been getting worse because of extreme weather patterns and climate change. Courtesy of News Leader and YouTube. Posted on Jul 11, 2021.)
Continue reading… 2 firefighters die in plane crash while responding to wildfire near Wikieup in Arizona
To learn more about 2021 on-duty firefighter fatalities, please visit the U. S. Fire Administration website here.
As an entity of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the mission of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is to support and strengthen fire and emergency medical services (EMS) and stakeholders to prepare for, prevent, mitigate and respond to all hazards.
The USFA tracks and collects information on the causes of on-duty firefighter fatalities that occur in the United States, and conducts an analysis to identify specific problems so that efforts can be directed towards finding solutions that will reduce future firefighter fatalities.
Editor’s note: Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Retired Tucson Fire Chief Jeff Piechura and the Forest Service Pilot who were killed in the line of duty of Saturday. Thank you for serving your communities with pride and distinction.
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