24-hour briefing on air tanker crash

Air tanker crash
Deseret News, Keith Johnson

The U.S. Forest Service has released a preliminary briefing on Saturday’s crash of Air Tanker 42 in Utah:

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Subject: Preliminary (24-Hour) Briefing

To: Ron Hanks

THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Location: Toole Utah

Date of occurrence: April 25, 2009

Time of occurrence: 10:00 AM

Team leader: NTSB (Kurt Anderson)

Mission: Ferry

Activity: Firefighting airtanker under operational control of New Mexico

Number injured: 0

Number of fatalities: 3

Property damage (such as to vessels, equipment, and structures): Total loss of airframe

Narrative: At approximately 10:00 am Mountain Standard Time, a P2V airtanker with a crew of 3, registered to Neptune aviation impacted terrain near Toole Utah in the Stockton Pass area. All three occupants onboard were killed. The aircraft was traveling from Missoula Montana to respond to the Four Mile fire in Chaves County. This fire and the associated flight was under the operational control of the State of New Mexico The occupants were identified as Tom Risk, Pilot, of Littleton CA, Mike Flynn, co-pilot, of Alamogordo, NM and Brian Buss ,Crew chief of Alberton Montana.

Aircraft debris was scattered over an area approximately 500 feet long and weather conditions at the time of the accident were described as foggy with low ceilings, wind and blowing snow.

The NTSB has assigned Kurt Anderson as Investigator in Charge and the FAA is also participating in the investigation. The investigation team has been on site since Sunday Morning along with representatives from Neptune aviation.

The Forest Service has contacted the NTSB Investigator in Charge to offer any support or assistance as needed. The AFF tracking system has been saved for investigation purposes and the aircraft has the APAREO system on board which may help reconstruct some information from the history of the flight.

Gary Morgan

Air Safety Investigator

USDA Forest Service

Air tanker crashes in Utah

A P2V Neptune air tanker crashed in the Oquirrh mountains today in Utah, killing the three-person crew. The crash occurred between Tooele and Stockton (map).

Tthe three men who died in the crash have been identified as:

  • Tom Risk, 66, from Littleton, Colo., pilot
  • Mike Flynn, 59, from Alamogordo, N.M., crew member
  • Brian Buss, 32, from Alberton, Mont., crew member

The aircraft, Tanker 42, was owned by Neptune Aviation of Missoula, Montana and was enroute from Missoula to Alamorgordo, New Mexico.

The county sheriff began searching for a crash site after a nearby resident reported hearing a large aircraft overhead then what sounded like “two semis crashing head on” at about 10 a.m. At about 11:15 a.m., the sheriff’s office learned through sources in Idaho that an airplane was reported missing.  Due to low clouds, searchers were initially unable to locate the crash site until 1 p.m. when the clouds lifted.

Deputies and search and rescue crews retrieved the victims from the crash site and were working late Saturday afternoon to bring the bodies down from the mountainside. That task was made difficult by low clouds, rain and steep terrain.

Our condolences go out to the families and co-workers of the crew.

Sadly, the P2V-7 Neptune that crashed at Reno on September 1, 2008 was also owned by Neptune Aviation.

air tanker crash
Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune

Missouri LODD

The Kansas City Star is reporting that a firefighter from the Odessa, Missouri fire department collapsed and died from an apparent heart attack while fighting a vegetation fire, Saturday March 15.  Lt. Roger Vorwark, 49, was a five-year veteran of the Odessa Fire and Rescue Protection Division.  He was treated at the scene, then transported by helicopter to a hospital in Independence where he was pronounced dead.

When funeral arrangements are complete they will be announced HERE.

Our condolences to the family and fellow firefighters.

Helicopter pilot killed in Kansas crash

We just received this message from Nate, one of our readers:

Great site, its my source for breaking news every morning.

I wanted to report to you that Roger Hershner, a long-time fire helicopter pilot was killed in Kansas yesterday, March 8. He was ferrying a helicopter from Hillcrest Aircraft Co. in Lewiston, ID to Virginia to start a USFS contract in Virginia. Not much info as to cause is available yet.  He refueled in Ogalala, Nebraska and was enroute to Topeka, Kansas when he crashed.

Roger most recently has flown the joint Santa Fe/Musselshell Exclusive use contract in R3/R1. He also flew the Grangeville Exclusive use contract, and several other contracts in the southern region. He was employed by Hillcrest for about 5 years. He has been flying contract helicopters for the USFS for about 30 years, maybe more.

KSALLink.com and the AP have stories.

Our condolences to Mr. Hershner’s family and co-workers.

Oklahoma firefighter dies while fighting fire

firefighter John Adams
Firefighter John Adams; photo: KJRH

John Adams, a firefighter with the Silver City Volunteer Fire Department in Oklahoma collapsed and stopped breathing around 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. Friday while working on a vegetation fire near Mannford. Mr. Adams, who had been with the Silver City FD for five years, had been fighting the fire for several hours.

He leaves behind a wife and three children.

The 1,000 acre fire is believed to have been started by an arsonist. Three fires were set within a mile of each other, minutes apart.

Our condolences go out to the family and the Silver City Volunteer Fire Department.

Wildfire news, February 12, 2009

Prepare, Stay and Defend OR Go Early–Nevada and California

In light of the 200+ deaths in the recent “Black Saturday” fires in Australia, some of the “Prepare, Stay and Defend OR Go Early” programs being implemented or considered in the United States are being looked at closely. The International Association of Fire Chiefs is for the concept, while the International Association of Fire Fighters is against it. (Note: the IAFC removed their document from their web site.)

In Nevada, Kurt Ladipow, Washoe County fire services coordinator, said of the plan they have been working on:

“Are we having second thoughts? In my opinion, we are not.”

In Ventura County, California, Bob Roper, a fire chief who also chairs the IAFC’s Wildland Fire Policy Committee said:

“Right now, there’s not enough information as to exactly what happened, why it happened or what caused the deaths. A light bulb has come on that says we really need to look at what happened over there.”

Esperanza fire trial

On Wednesday jurors were shown about an hour of a video of Raymond Lee Oyler being interviewed at the Cabazon sheriff’s station on October 27, 2006 the day after the fire started. Investigators were led to Oyler after seeing his car going to and from the origin of a fire on October 22, 2006 in video shot by a hidden camera.

Oyler is on trial for setting the Esperanza and 22 other fires in 2006. Five U.S. Forest Service firefighters died in the Esperanza fire.

The Press-Enterprise has excellent coverage of the trial.

West Virginia man dies in brush fire

From the State Journal:

A Pocahontas County man was killed while burning brush. The state fire marshal’s office confirms one man was killed in a brush fire in Marlinton. Officials say the fire was less than 10-acres.

The man’s name has not been released but investigators say it appears he was burning brush around his house when the fire got out of control.

The Division of Forestry responded. It took about 3 hours to get control of the fire.

Investigators say it’s been several years since West Virginia has seen a death as a result of a brush fire.

Del Walters named new director of CalFire

Del Walters, new CalFire Director
Del Walters, new CalFire Director

Del Walters, 54, of Redding, California, has been appointed director of CalFire, replacing the retiring Ruben Grijalva. Mr. Walters has worked for CalFire for 30 years and has been their Executive Officer since 2008. Before taking that position, he was the Staff Chief of the Northern Region.