Firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing 3 Americans

Posted at 5:48 AM, Jan 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-23 05:50:34-05

SYDNEY (AP) — Three American crew members died following a C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker crash while battling wildfires in southeastern Australia.

The New South Wales premier confirmed the crash deaths in the state's Snowy Monaro region as Australia attempts to deal with an unprecedented fire season that has left a large swath of destruction.

Coulson Aviation in the U.S. state of Oregon says one of its Lockheed large air tankers was lost after it left Richmond in New South Wales with retardant for a firebombing mission.

The tragedy brings the death toll from the blazes to at least 31 since September.

Coulson grounded other firefighting aircraft as a precaution pending investigation, reducing planes available to firefighters in New South Wales and neighboring Victoria state.