Three U.S. residents have died after a New South Wales Rural Fire Service air tanker crashed while fighting bushfires in the state’s Snowy Mountains, authorities confirmed at a news conference Thursday.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, operated by the Canadian company Coulson Aviation, crashed near Cooma in the south of the state.
NSW RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said, “Initial reports are there was a large fireball associated with the impact of the plane as it hit the ground.” Out of respect for the three US firefighters who lost their lives operating a Large Air Tanker, flags will fly at half mast in NSW tomorrow.
Fitzsimmons said the fire some 70 miles south of the nation’s capital, Canberra, was one of more than 80 burning in the state’s south, some out of control. Multiple bushfires were burning across Australia amid searing heat that topped 100 degrees F in some places. The fire chief said authorities lost contact with the plane just before 1:30 p.m. local time as it flew over the Snowy Monaro area amid hot, dry and windy conditions.
Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP
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