Firefighting plane crashes near Reno, killing 3

Firefighting plane crashes near Reno, killing 3

2 September 2008

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USA — An air tanker that had been used to drop retardant on one wildfire in the Sierra Nevada crashed after taking off for a flight to a second blaze, killing all three crew members.

The order for the flight to the second blaze was canceled around the time of the crash, officials said Tuesday.

Preliminary witness reports suggested the aircraft had lost part of one engine or a wing after taking off from Reno-Stead Airport, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane went down about a half-mile from the airport and burst into flame, Reno fire spokesman Steve Frady said.

The twin-engine P2V air tanker owned by Neptune Aviation of Missoula, Mont., had returned to the airport Monday after making one flight over a fire in California’s Hope Valley south of Lake Tahoe during the morning, said Marnie Bonesteel, a spokeswoman with the Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators.

The plane crashed after it took off to drop retardant on another fire in California later in the day, she said.

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