Two pilots were killed Thursday as their air tankers collided in the air as they helped fight a large fire in southern Nevada.
The U.S. Land Administration Bureau suggested in a statement that the deceased was a “contract pilot.” “Recovery operations are currently underway and initial notifications are still being made,” she said.
The sheriff in Lincoln County, where the collision occurred, did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday night.
A spokesman for the National Council for Transport Safety said that even the plane was not able to land.
The cause of the incident at 12:55 p.m. It was not immediately clear, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. There was one pilot on board each AT8T single-engine air tractor, the ministry said.
The Land Administration stated that the cause was still under investigation.
The planes can drop up to 800 gallons of flame retardant and are able to maneuver into areas that are more difficult to access for larger tankers, the office said.
“My sincere condolences to the families of the two pilots and all those who work with the Nevada Ely BLM District,” said Nevada Ely State Director of the Country’s Regional Management in a statement.
The planes were sent to help fight the Episcopal fire, a 14,000-hectare fire that burns on federal land about 150 kilometers northeast of Las Vegas.
The fire started on Wednesday, the place said. Its cause was reported as “human”, although no further details were available. The website states that “extremely record heat” could lead to a fire.
Dennis Romero contributed.