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

North District RCMP see massive spike in domestic calls

Connection to COVID-19 pandemic likely for reduced call volume, increased severity

Northwest mines lengthen crew rotations in response to COVID-19

Northern Health confident precautions sufficient enough to keep work camps open

COVID-19: Old Massett Emergency Operations Centre erects three checkpoints

Old Massett Village Council letter says checkpoint locations are New Town, Yakan Point, Old Massett

Fisheries and Oceans Canada lifts at-sea observer requirements due to COVID-19

Fisheries Management Order went into effect April 2 and will remain for 45 days

COLUMN: The other graph that shows B.C. can beat COVID-19

Is the curve being flattened? data on hospitalizations provides a crucial answer.

Here’s how to talk to people who aren’t taking physical distancing seriously

Approach the conversation with empathy says conflict expert

B.C. clears more acute hospital beds as COVID-19 case growth slows

Province holding about 40% of beds empty for peak still to come

As 500K+ apply for emergency benefit, Trudeau says aid coming for Canadians left behind

Canada Emergency Response Benefit provides $2,000 per month

Wearing non-medical masks can stop spread of COVID-19 before symptoms start: Tam

Health officials had previously not recommended wearing them

UPDATE: UK PM Boris Johnson moved to intensive care after COVID-19 symptoms worse

He has been quarantined in his Downing St. residence since being diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 26

Travellers, travel agents ‘in agony’ over refund policies and customer service

Many Canadian carriers are offering customers flights rebookings or travel vouchers — but not refunds

Introverted and extroverted kids likely to react differently to COVID-19 restrictions

B.C. child psychologist says your parenting approach can’t be one-size fits all in social isolation

Most Read