Pilot killed when firefighting plane crashes into Montana reservoir while taking on water
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Pilot killed when firefighting plane crashes into Montana reservoir while taking on water

Pilot killed when firefighting plane crashes into Montana reservoir while taking on water

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A pilot was killed when a single-engine firefighting plane crashed Wednesday afternoon into a Montana reservoir while taking on water to extinguish a nearby wildfire, officials said.

The accident occurred just after noon at Hauser Reservoir on the Missouri River, northeast of Helena in Lewis and Clark County.

Search and rescue boats and law enforcement officers, as well as divers from Gallatin County, responded to the scene.

Officials later told a news conference that the pilot of the scooper plane, a 45-year-old woman, had died. She was not being named pending notification of next of kin who do not live in the United States, the Independent Record reported.

“It’s not just flying in, flying out and collecting water. These are dangerous environments,” Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Forest Service will investigate the crash of the Air Tractor AT-802, which was operated by the Forest Service and leased from Idaho.

The pilot was part of a crew battling the nearby Horse Ridge fire, a 450-acre (182-hectare) human-caused blaze burning in dense woods in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest about 5 miles (8 kilometers) south of the town of York. The fire broke out Tuesday, and the sheriff’s office ordered some residents to evacuate Wednesday afternoon.

Temperatures in the Helena area have been above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) for several days, with the forecast calling for a high of 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) on Wednesday.

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