Two killed in air tanker crash at White Rock Fire

A photo of a fire-plane from the1950s | Courtesy of USDA Forest Service.

IRON COUNTY – Two people are confirmed dead in the air tanker crash at the White Rock Fire in Hamblin Valley Sunday.

According to Chris Hanefeld, a fire information officer with the Bureau of Land Management’s Ely District Office,  a Forest Service-contracted Lockheed P-2V heavy air tanker dropping retardant on the White Rock Fire crashed around 2 p.m. Sunday. The cause of the crash is unknown.

The plane was piloted by Capt. Todd Neal Tompkins and co-piloted by First Officer Ronnie Edwin Chambless, both of Boise, Idaho. The plane is owned by Neptune Aviation Services out of Missoula, Mont.

The Iron County Sheriff’s Office, emergency response teams and an accident investigation team responded to the crash.

The White Rock Fire originally started in Lincoln County, Nev., Friday evening and spread into Utah near Hamblin Valley Saturday. The blaze was caused by lightning and currently stands at 5,000 acres.

Over 135 firefighters and support personnel are involved in battling the fire. Full containment is expected by Saturday evening, June 9

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Copyright 2012 St. George News.

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