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

Quesnel RCMP respond to three gun-related calls, including drive-by shooting, in five days

Sgt. Richard Weseen says the Quesnel RCMP has seized more than 17 firearms in the month of September

Williams Lake First Nation inks historic cannabis deal with B.C. government

The agreement paves the way for WLFN to sell cannabis to the government, and open stores across B.C.

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association CEO Amy Thacker named to provincial Tourism Task Force

The Province is allocating $50 million in the Economic Recovery Plan to implement new measures

Cariboo Regional District hopes to build low mobility trail at Pioneer Park

The regional district is applying for federal funding for trail construction and site upgrades

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Most Read