Wreckage found of missing Russian air tanker

This article first appeared on Fire Aviation.

Russian rescuers
Rescuers in Russia board a helicopter to fly to the site of the air tanker crash. Screen shot from EMERCOM of Russia video.

The wreckage of the Russian air tanker that was reported missing in Siberia on July 1 has been found. Rescuers found the debris of the Ilyushin IL-76 plane at approximately 2 a.m. Moscow time in the Kachug District, 9 km southeast of the settlement of Rybny Uyan.

Сегодня при обследовании места предполагаемого крушения самолета Ил-76 МЧС России летчиком-наблюдателем Авиалесоохраны Иркутской области Антипиным Александром в Качугском районе было обнаружено место крушения самолета Ил-76 МЧС России. В настоящее время десантники-пожарные Федеральной Авиалесоохраны в глухом лесу, где упал самолет, проводят расчистку площадки для приземления вертолета со спасателями МЧС. #леснойпожар #лес #пламя #героизм #парашютисты #десантники #огонь #пожар #лесной_пожарный #Avialesookhrana #Forest #fire #firefighter #smokejumpers #лесныепожары #bomberos #авиация #firefighterslife #пламя #aviation #plane #bombeiros #самолет #авиалесоохрана #рослесхоз #мчс #ил76 #трагедия

A photo posted by Федеральная Авиалесоохрана (@avialesookhrana) on

From the air the in the smoky conditions in the forest the only recognizable part of the aircraft was the tail.

Initially there were conflicting reports on the number of personnel on board, ranging from 9 to 11, but Russian authorities on Sunday confirmed there were 10. The remains of six and one flight recorder have been located. Marines are clearing an area to be used as a helispot.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the New Indian Express:

…A Russian aviation agencies source told TASS news agency that the plane most likely lost control because of interference from hot air from the wildfire that it was trying to douse with water.

“It’s possible that hot air from the wildfires got into the engines, the plane lost propulsion and could not gain altitude, hit the top of the trees and fell,” the source was quoted as saying.

The plane’s tail was discovered by another firefighter on today morning, said the Russian forestry agency’s aviation unit.

Last week another firefighter died on duty in Russia’s far-eastern Kamchatka region, the regional government revealed.

The forestry agency’s aviation unit said today that over 43 thousand hectares of forest land is burning in Russia, mostly in Siberia.

But Russia’s Greenpeace which monitors wildfires via satellite data said government figures are vastly underestimated, with 415 thousand hectares burning in Irkutsk region alone.

Wildland fire potential, July through October

On July 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for July through October, 2016. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit. Below are highlights from the outlook.


“During late June and July significant wildland fire potential usually transitions from the Southwest and southern California northward into the remainder of the western United States. The timing of this transition should be near normal; however, some areas will experience an increased potential for significant fires due in large part to high fine fuel loading. These areas include the northern and western Great Basin, northern California and some of the finer fuel regime areas of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. Additionally the Southwest will continue to see elevated significant wildland fire potential through July as monsoonal rainfall may not be as consistent as usual. Southern California also will continue to have elevated significant fire potential throughout the period driven by long term drought and vegetation mortality. Alaska fire potential will remain near normal with the northern portions of the state below normal. Alaska usually begins to transition to late season conditions in July and August.

wildfire potential August 2016

The same heavy fine fuel crops that are driving the above normal forecast for July will continue to present above normal potential into August. Forecasted normal conditions in the higher elevations for August, however, mean that a number of significant wildland fires are likely to develop in these areas throughout the West. Fire season in the western U.S. is typically at its peak in July and August and this year should be no different with the potential for significant fires across the spectrum of fuel regimes all indicating at least normal levels of fire activity.

wildfire potential Sept and Oct 2016

In September and October the northern tier of states should see a rapid return to normal wildfire potential. The focus for activity should transition to California. Long term drought is expected to remain in place and fall conditions typically bring an increase in offshore wind events that often drive fire activity for the state.”

Russian air tanker missing while fighting wildfire in Siberia

Above: file photo of IL-76TD by Shahram Sharifi

A very large air tanker that had been working on a wildfire in Siberia is missing. The IL-76, which can carry up to 15,000 U.S. gallons, had 11 on board, including “fire-fighting experts”, according to a report by Tass.

The air tanker departed at 5:34 a.m. Moscow time on Friday to assist firefighters on a fire in the Kachugsky district of the Irkutsk region. The crew did not make radio contact as planned at 6:30 a.m. Moscow time.

A search is underway assisted by two helicopters and an Antonov An-12 and An-26 of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

From Tass:

The crew members of the missing Il-76 plane are from Moscow and they have accumulated huge fire-fighting experience, a source in emergency services told TASS. “The crew members have a huge experience of fire-fighting operations, delivery of humanitarian relief supplies and other air rescue missions,” the source said.

Small fire camp burned over in New Mexico

Burned fire campThree firefighters rode horses into a wilderness area in the Gila National Forest to assess the Turkey Fire in early June. As they were setting up fire camp the least experienced of the three began to construct a fire line around the location, but the Incident Commander, who spent 17 years on a local hotshot crew, told him not to bother, explaining that nearby meadows would keep the fire from spreading toward their camp. After dropping off their equipment, they left to develop a plan to protect a cabin.

Upon returning they discovered that the fire had burned through the site, destroying all of their supplies and equipment.

You can read the entire report at the Lessons Learned website, which is the source of these photos.

Burned fire camp

Mine clearing missile reportedly used to help control wildfire in Russia

We can’t confirm that two UR-77 Meteorit missile-firing mine clearing vehicles were actually used to help control a wildfire in Siberia, but that is the report. The missile may be towing detonation cord, which is sometimes used by wildland firefighters to build fireline or to fell a dangerous snag.

FAA sends email to drone users about flying near wildfires

Several times in the last 10 days drones flying near wildfires have required that firefighting aircraft cease operations, sometimes for hours at a time.

Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration sent a mass email to individuals who have registered their drones with the agency, warning them that “drone operators who interfere with wildfire suppression efforts are subject to civil penalties of up to $27,500 and possible criminal prosecution”.

FAA email drone warning
FAA emailed drone warning, June 29, 2016.