A single engine air tanker, one of two stationed at the St. George Airport, makes a drop Tuesday while fighting the Utah Hill fire. One of the tankers crashed Thursday fighting the Dammeron Fire.
Photo credit: Nick Adams/Daily News
The wreckage of a single engine air tanker burns Thursday after crashing while fighting the Dammeron Fire.
Photo credit: Andrew Tomer
DAMMERON VALLEY -- The pilot of a single-engine air tanker died Thursday night while assisting in efforts to extinguish the Dammeron Fire.
Officials would not release the name or any specifics on the man flying the plane Thursday night, pending notification of next of kin.
The pilot apparently worked on the fire in a yellow agriculture plane and had just dumped a load of retardant when his plane either stalled or pitched at about 6:30 p.m., said Dammeron Valley resident Andrew Tomer, who watched the accident happen.
Tomer said the pilot made his drop on the other side of the ridge and within a few seconds the plane crashed and exploded.
Within a few minutes, a helicopter and plane made drops on the fire started from the crashed aircraft, Tomer said.
Multiple agencies arrived on the scene of the accident in vehicles within about an hour, said Adam Oliver, another Dammeron Valley resident who saw the aftermath of the crash.
Oliver said he could see from his binoculars that the emergency crews were setting up a perimeter and tape around the scene.
Larry LeForte, fire management officer with Utah State Forest Fire, said it was unknown how the accident happened. The crash will be investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
After the single-engine tanker crashed, other aircraft assisting in the fire were grounded, according to procedure, said Information Officer David Eaker, with the interagency effort.
Eaker did not know if aircraft would be in use today.