Coulson Aviation’s C-130 sits on the tarmac in the United States in October 2019 waiting to be put into service. (COULSON AVIATION PHOTO)

B.C.-based firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing three

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service confirms three people have died after a C-130 heavy air tanker owned by Coulson Aviation crashed in Australia this afternoon.

The aircraft was deployed to fires in the Snowy Mountains. They lost contact with the machine and the flight tracker stopped. “There’s no indication at this time what caused the accident,” NSW RFS commission Shane Fitzsimmons said in a press conference tonight.

There were approximately four other aircraft in the area fighting the fire at the time.

The weather has been hot, dry and windy with smoke and dust in the area. “It was another very difficult, aggressive fire day.”

“We are deeply saddened to confirm there were three fatalities,” Coulson Aviation confirmed in a post on its Coulson Aviation – Next Gen Firefighting Facebook page.

The aircraft had departed Richmond, NSW with a load of retardant and was on a firebombing mission. “The accident response team has been activated as well as local emergency services. Coulson Aviation will be sending a team to the site to assist in emergency operations.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the three crew members onboard,” said the statement, signed “The Coulson Family.”

The NSW RFS reported on Twitter at 7:22 p.m. PST that it was investigating reports of a “serious incident” involving an aircraft in southern New South Wales.

The NSW RFS media release states that contact was lost with a large air tanker working in the Snowy Monaro area. The wreckage has been located. There was a fireball associated with the crash, according to the NSW RFS spokesperson.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the three crew…and with Coulson Aviation, with whom we’ve had a long association.”

READ: Coulson Aviation sends helicopters to Chile, Australia to fight wildfires

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a news conference that the crash “demonstrates the dangerous work being undertaken and demonstrates the conditions that our firefighters are working under. There were in excess of 70 aircraft being used today (Jan. 23 in Australia) alone.

“Today is a stark and horrible reminder of the dangerous conditions that our volunteers and emergency services personnel across a number of agencies undertake on a daily basis.”

Berejiklian said there were 1,700 volunteers and personnel working to control fires a number of fires across New South Wales on the day the plane crashed.

Coulson grounded their large air tankers this afternoon in NSW and Victoria pending a review and out of respect to the families of the crew members, a NSW spokesperson said. No names are being released pending notification of next of kin. All three crew members were U.S. residents, Fitzsimmons said.

Coulson Aviation representatives will be in Sydney, NSW within the next 24 hours.

Coulson and the NSW RFS have worked together for the past four or five years and last year purchased a converted 737 air tanker from the Port Alberni-based aviation company. Coulson is contracted to operate and maintain that 737 for the Rural Fire Service, and also has a second 737 and second C-130 operating in the state of Victoria, Fitzsimmons said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Coulson Aviation’s two C-130 air tankers sit on the tarmac in Santa Maria, California, earlier this week. The aircraft in front also has markings for the work it will do in the state of Victoria, Australia, once it is finished in California. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Just Posted

Summer Stories Around Town program encourages outdoor reading in Elk Valley

With storywalks and clothesline stories in Fernie and Sparwood, everyone can get reading

School District 5 identifies funding needs in yearly budget report

The SD5 board presented three main projects that need increased funding in the coming years

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Student athletes recognized for outstanding seasons

Fernie Secondary School students got their awards in a drive by ceremony last week

The Elk Valley celebrates Canada Day

Creative socially distant Canada Day festivities were held in both Fernie and Sparwood this week

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

COVID-19 cases identified in Kelowna, after public gatherings

Those who were downtown or at the waterfront from June 25 to July 6 maybe have been exposed to COVID-19.

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

Most Read