Air Force plane crashes battling US forest fire - My9 New Jersey

Air Force plane crashes battling US forest fire

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DAN ELLIOTT,Associated Press
MEAD GRUVER,Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (AP) — A U.S. military cargo plane crashed while fighting one of several wildfires ravaging the West, but there was no official word Monday on death or injuries.

The North Carolina Air National Guard said six crew members were aboard when the plane crashed Sunday after dropping fire retardant in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Other fires still burning included the largest wildfire in Colorado history.

South Dakota officials told the Rapid City Journal newspaper that three crew members from the crash were taken to a hospital. Military officials would not comment.

A U.S. Forest Service official in Colorado offered sympathy to the crew members' families. "We grieve your loss this morning along with you," said Jerri Marr, supervisor of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests.

Such Air Force C-130s can be equipped to drop 3,000 gallons (11,350 liters) of water or fire retardant in seconds. The planes can be activated for firefighting duty if the rest of the private and government firefighting fleet is in use or unavailable.

All eight of the C-130 planes had been dispatched last week to fight Colorado wildfires, including one that killed two people and destroyed nearly 350 houses in Colorado Springs. The fire was 55 percent contained Monday, a day after many residents were allowed the first visit to charred homes.

Among the fires elsewhere:

— Utah: Hundreds of firefighters were trying to hold the Clay Springs fire from advancing on the ranching towns of Scipio and Mills. The fire had destroyed one summer home and threatened 75 others. The fire was 48 percent contained on Sunday.

— Montana: More evacuation notices were issued in the southeastern part of the state after a wildfire jumped a highway overnight and was spreading Monday. The state had 10 large wildfires, more than any other state.

— Wyoming: Late Sunday night, authorities called for evacuations in an area of southern Albany County where a fast-growing wildfire was burning. It wasn't immediately clear how many residences were affected.

— Idaho: Firefighters in eastern Idaho had a wildfire 80 percent contained Sunday but remained cautious with a forecast of high winds and hot temperatures that could put hundreds of homes at risk.

— Nevada: More than 300 firefighters were battling a wildfire in a remote area in the east.

— New Mexico: A wildfire burning on the western border of Carlsbad Caverns National Park had grown to 5,000 acres (2,023 hectares).


Elliott reported from Denver. Associated Press writers Paul Foy in Salt Lake City, Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho, and Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, North Dakota, contributed to this report.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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