Plane goes down fighting White Draw fire

2012-07-01T22:15:00Z 2012-07-02T11:27:07Z Plane goes down fighting White Draw fireAaron Orlowski Journal staff Rapid City Journal
July 01, 2012 10:15 pm  • 

A C-130 plane fighting the White Draw fire near Edgemont "went down" Sunday night, according to the Fall River County Sheriff's Office.

A helicopter was able to land near the Air Force plane and took three people to Custer to be transported by ambulance to Rapid City Regional Hospital for further medical treatment, the sheriff's office said.

A spokesman handling information for the White Draw fire said he was unable to confirm anything beyond the fact that a plane went down and search and rescue crews were working on the crash. He could not confirm the number of people or the type of plane involved.

"Our No. 1 priority right now is taking care of the crew," Pat Cross, incident management spokesman, said Sunday night.

Military officials confirmed that the plane that crashed was based out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

The aircraft disappeared from radar contact early Sunday evening, according to Dakota Fire information spokeswoman Julie Molzahn. Emergency management personnel were scrambling to uncover the full details Sunday evening.

Late Sunday night, information requests were handed over to a military press information office.

There are 181 personnel fighting the fire, which has grown to 4,200 acres and is 30 percent contained. The C-130 Hercules Air Force plane has been used to drop retardant on the fire.

The airplane crash looks to complicate the effort to fight the White Draw fire, a blaze that has been spurred on by hot conditions and light, grassy fuels that ignite rapidly.

The fire, about five miles northeast of Edgemont, is consuming a mix of grasslands and timber on U.S. Forest Service land.

"We had a little bit of rain (Saturday) but with the fine, grassy fuels, it doesn't take long for that to dry out and become tinder dry," spokesman Brian Scott said Sunday.

Active fire behavior began again around noon Sunday, producing heavy smoke and significant fire growth. Hot, dry weather with winds coming out of the southeast grew the fire. In the late afternoon, a thunder cell passed over, producing lightning.

After the thunder cell passed, the wind shifted to the southwest.

Crews started their day early Sunday to take advantage of more favorable working conditions ahead of unfavorable winds and temperatures in the hot afternoon hours.

Firefighters are working on protecting structures on the northwest perimeter.

Four helicopters provided water drops throughout the day to cool hot spots. A single engine air tanker and U.S. Air Force Mobile Air Fighting System C-130 Hercules assisted with retardant drops. The C-130 was the one that went down.

The 181 personnel assigned to the fire include four Type II hand crews of 20 each, 13 fire engines, three dozers and five water tenders in addition to the aircraft. More crews equipment have been ordered.

The Associated Press also contributed to this report.

Contact Aaron Orlowski at 484-7069 or

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. Stopyerwhining
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    Stopyerwhining - July 05, 2012 2:27 am
    My heart goes out to the people who lost their lives trying to save our Black Hills, but mostly to their families.....anyone complaining about lack of resources obviously does not understand what is going on Nationwide. I will be flying my flag half-staff on Thursday to honor those who lost their lives trying to save our Black Hills, but have also been...and continue to be....flying my flag in the honor of those who survived the crash, and also those who are working to fight the fire now.
  2. Very sad
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    Very sad - July 03, 2012 4:34 pm
    We have lost 4 brave people from far away helping us with the fires in the Black Hills Very Sad
  3. Just Facts
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    Just Facts - July 02, 2012 8:23 pm
    The limitation of the C-130s available to dedicate to the firefighting mission is due to the number of Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) available, not the number of aircraft. The mission is a partnership between the US Forest Service and the Air Force. AF provides the aircraft (C-130s) and the USFS provides the MAFFS systems. During this difficult time I would think one could focus on the fact that some good people lost their lives trying to protect the property of those living thousands of miles away whom they probably don’t even know!
  4. Hotspot
    Report Abuse
    Hotspot - July 02, 2012 10:32 am
    Thank you Methow was just going to explain that all MAFFS units have been deployed out. Its not the number of C-130's but the number of units that are available to fly. And FYI the units are purchased by the department of forestry. Our guys are doing everything they can to protect our communities from these fires even to the point to where it has cost them thier lives.
  5. Methow
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    Methow - July 02, 2012 10:16 am
    3 points:
    1. You think they are "other peoples wars" - when they're not really... (think global terrorism)
    2. There are only 8 C-130's equipped with the mobile tanker drop system for fighting fires
    3. Resources deployed to these fires are pathetically deficient.
  6. Thunderhead
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    Thunderhead - July 02, 2012 7:38 am
    Good point, Kafantaris.
  7. kafantaris
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    kafantaris - July 02, 2012 4:56 am
    When we have only eight C-130s here fighting our perennial wars with fires, and yet hundreds of C-130s all over the world fighting other people's wars, we might be making a statement about our priorities.
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