Federal officials said two pilots were killed on Thursday when their air tanker collided in Midair, as they were helping fight a major wildfire in southern Nevada.
The US Bureau of Land Management suggested in a statement that the deceased were “contract pilots”. “Recovery operations are currently underway and preliminary notifications are still being made,” it said.
The sheriff in Lincoln County, where the collision occurred, did not respond to a request for comment Thursday night.
A National Transport Safety Board spokesman said neither aircraft was capable of landing.
The cause of the incident at 12:55 pm was not immediately clear, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The department said that each single-engine air tractor AT8T had one pilot.
The Bureau of Land Management said the cause was still under investigation.
The bureau said the aircraft could tow about 800 gallons of fire retardant aircraft and large tankers are difficult to reach.
“We offer our condolences to the families of the two pilots and to those working with the BLM Nevada Ely District,” Nevada State Director of the Bureau of Land Management, John Reby said in a statement.
According to Nevada Fire Information, a site with state and federal fire data, the planes were dispatched to help fight the Bishop Fire, a 14,000-acre blaze on federal land about 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas Is a flame of
The fire broke out on Wednesday, the site said. The cause was listed as “human”, although no additional details were available. The site said that “extreme, record-breaking heat” could fuel the explosion.
Denis Romero has contributed.