(We have updated information on the incident HERE, July 2, 2012.)
A C-130 military air tanker air tanker *”went down” in South Dakota late Sunday afternoon. Fox News and the Rapid City Journal are reporting that two or three survived — reports differ about the number. The incident was confirmed by Pat Cross, a spokesperson for the Incident Management Team assigned to the White Draw fire northeast of Edgemont, South Dakota. It is believed that the air tanker had been working on that fire.
A helicopter was able to land near the site and fly the injured crewmembers to Custer. From there they were transported to Rapid City Regional Hospital for further medical treatment, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The C-130 usually carries a crew of six. The additional members of the crew are unaccounted for.
The aircraft was outfitted with a Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) in the cargo hold which enables it to operate as an air tanker, carrying up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant. It was one of eight that have been activated over the last week to help suppress the numerous fires in the western United States.
*(Note: we used the term “went down” because that or “gone down” is the phrase that was used in the early reports, including those from the Fall River County Sheriff’s Office and the Great Plains Dispatch Center in Rapid City. We don’t know the circumstances, and there is a report that it occurred several miles from the White Draw fire.)
We want to thank the numerous people who reported this to us in comments on other articles and directly over the phone. This notice would have gone up sooner, but we were out in the field covering the Highland and Oil Creek fires.