Air Force Grounds C-130 Fire Fighting Fleet After Fatal Crash
AP UPDATE 7/3/12, 11:46 AM:
The military says six Air Force tankers are resuming firefighting flights after a deadly crash of one tanker over the weekend.
U.S. Northern Command says the flights will resume Tuesday.
The entire fleet of eight planes was grounded after a C-130 crashed Sunday while fighting a wildfire in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The C-130 was from an Air National Guard wing based in Charlotte, N.C., and was carrying a crew of six. The crash killed at least two crew members and injured others.
The crash of a North Carolina-based Air National Guard plane that was fighting wildfires in South Dakota has left at least one crew member dead.
That crash has led the US Air Force to ground its fleet of C-130s with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS, until an investigation has been completed.
According to officials with the state of New Mexico and the National Forest Service, no MAFFS are currently assigned to fires in New Mexico. "In immediate terms, this is not going to affect us," says Dan Ware, New Mexico's State Fire Information Officer.
Jennifer Myslivy, public information officer with the Horse Canyon Fire--which has burned 5,000 acres near Carlsbad, NM--adds that whenever there is an accident of that type, it's typical for a 24-hour "stand down" to occur.
The family of Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal of Mooresville confirmed they were notified early Monday that he had died in the C-130 crash on Sunday. The 42-year-old married father of two was a veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Rose Dunlap of the 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte says six crew members were aboard, but that she could not yet provide any information about their condition.
The plane went down about 6 p.m. in the southwest corner of South Dakota, where it had been dropping flame retardant on the White Draw Fire.
The cause of the crash is under investigation.