Two air tankers collide while fighting fire |

Two air tankers collide while fighting fire

The Associated Press

HOPLAND, Calif. (AP) – Two California Department of Forestry air tankers collided Monday while fighting a raging Mendocino County fire, police say.

Neither of the pilots survived the crash, according to Mike Tuttle, CDF fire captain.

The pilots were fighting a 200-acre fire that has burned four structures and is threatening more than a dozen others, said Tracy Boudreaux, CDF spokeswoman. Authorities were unclear what may have caused the crash, but it is being investigated, she said.

The aircrafts were S-2 tankers capable of carrying 500 gallons of retardant, Boudreaux said. All other aircrafts were grounded following the collision, which occurred about 7:30 p.m. about eight miles south of Ukiah.

No injuries have been reported, but Boudreaux said some residents have voluntarily evacuated their homes. The fire, which began Monday afternoon, has been classified as ”suspicious.”

There were nine aircrafts involved in fighting the blaze when the accident occurred, said Sgt. Ron Welch of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department.

”They were crossing paths with each other,” witness Jeff Anderson told KRON-TV in San Francisco. ”They did hit direct, and it looked like one might have knocked the tail off the other one, but obvious damage was done to both to make them crash.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.