Pilots Killed When Planes Collide Battling Wildfire

Bishop Fire Is Burning Near Caliente

Associated Press
July 31, 2020 - 5:32 am
Helicopter drops water on a brush fire as a firefighter watches on

VAKSMANV/Getty Images

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CALIENTE, Nev. (AP) — Two pilots were killed whan a  pair of small air-tankers collided in mid-air Thursday while battling a growing wildfire about 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

The pilots were the only people on board the single-engine planes that collided about 1 p.m. during a mission attacking flames on the fire about 17 miles southwest of Caliente, according to Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Bureau of Land Management says the fire broke out Wednesday in Rainbow Canyon. It more than doubled in size on Thursday and has burned an estimated 20 square miles (26 square kilometers) of small timber and grass.

The agency said no structures were immediately threatened.

More than 250 firefighters were battling the blaze in near-record heat. Smoke was visible in southwest Utah.

Gregor said the accident occurred near the intersection of Kane Springs Road and Riggs Road. Fire officials had said earlier one of the priorities Thursday was to keep the flames from spreading west of Riggs Road.

The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating. Gregor said the FAA would assist, but that the NTSB would determine the probable cause of the crash.