Fatal crash grounds key part of firefighting fleet

12:08 AM, Jul 3, 2012   |    comments
C-130 Hercules (file photo)
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) -- The deadly crash of a military cargo plane fighting a South Dakota wildfire has forced officials to ground seven other Air Force air tankers. That removes critical firefighting aircraft from the skies during one of the busiest and most destructive wildfire seasons ever to hit the West.

The C-130 from an Air National Guard wing based in Charlotte, N.C., was carrying a crew of six and fighting a 6.5-square-mile blaze in the Black Hills when it went down Sunday, killing at least one crew member and injuring others.

President Barack Obama has offered condolences to the families of the crew saying, "The men and women battling these terrible fires across the West put their lives on the line every day for their fellow Americans."

All of the planes had been sent to Colorado last week to fight the wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes.

Without the C-130s, there are still 14 federally-contracted heavy tankers available.

Associated Press

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