3 Americans killed in plane crash while fighting fires in Australia

by Jordyn Pair · Jan 23rd, 2020 9:57 am

Three American firefighters died in a water tanker plane crash while battling bushfires in Australia on Thursday.

Rural Fire Service officials said they located the plane, which was carrying retardant for a firebombing mission, after it crashed around the Snowy Monaro region of New South Wales state. The plane can drop more than 4,000 gallons of fire retardant on a single pass.

Coulson Aviation in Oregon said in a statement that one of its C-130 Lockheed large air tankers was lost after leaving Richmond in NSW and that the accident was "extensive."

"We are deeply saddened to confirm there were 3 fatalities," Coulson's statement said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three crew members onboard."

Coulson grounded its other planes as a precautionary measure. The victims have not yet been identified.

The crash raises the death toll from the fire to at least 31.