Pilot killed when firefighting plane crashes into Montana reservoir while scooping up water

By The Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The pilot died when a single-engine firefighting aircraft crashed into a Montana reservoir Wednesday afternoon while scooping up water to fight a nearby blaze, officials said.

The crash was reported shortly after noon on Hauser Reservoir on the Missouri River northeast of Helena in Lewis and Clark County.

Law enforcement and search and rescue teams in boats responded, along with divers from Gallatin County.

Officials said later in a news conference that the “scooper” plane’s pilot, a 45-year-old woman, died. They did not provide a name pending notification of next of kin who do not live in the United States, the Independent Record newspaper reported.

“This is not just coming in and flying and picking up water. These are dangerous types of environments,” Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Forest Service will investigate the crash of the Air Tractor AT-802, which was working for the Forest Service and contracted out of Idaho.

The pilot was part of a crew fighting the nearby Horse Ridge Fire, a 450-acre (182-hectare) human-caused blaze burning in dense timber in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest about 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of the town of York. The fire started Tuesday, and the sheriff’s office ordered some residents to evacuate Wednesday afternoon.

High temperatures in the Helena area have been above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) for several days and were forecast to reach 100 degrees (38 Celsius) on Wednesday.

The Associated Press

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today