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

Salmon Arm hockey enthusiasts recognized by regional association

Minor hockey association adds its congratulations to player, coach

Volatile enrolment leads to loss of teaching staff at three North Okanagan-Shuswap schools

Three quarters of students using online learning program expected to return to class

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Kiera Bourque’s sentence ‘an embarrassment’: family of deceased Penticton teen

Bourque was sentenced to one year in prison for her role in the 2017 death of Devon Blackmore

Kelowna RCMP seize drugs, weapons from downtown residence

Search warrant was in relation to an active criminal investigation into suspected drug trafficking

‘Won’t be gathering for Thanksgiving:’ Trudeau says COVID-19 2nd wave underway

In all, COVID-19 has killed about 9,250 people in Canada

COLUMN: COVID-19 statistics are the stories of people

This pandemic is ultimately about people, not just about numbers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

EDITORIAL: Clearing the smoke

Wildfires have resulted in heavy smoke and poor air quality

Kelowna man’s child porn collection ‘traversed the spectrum of depravity,’ court hears

Terry Krock was caught in possession of between 7,000 and 12,000 child porn files

COVID-19 exposure at Merritt pub

The exposure happened on Sept. 19 at the pub of the Coldwater Hotel

Most Read