Tanker 134 at the Siskiyou Tanker Base, September 9, 2019 (Photo: U.S. Forest Service)

Air tanker that crashed in Australia helped fight Siskiyou County fire

Tanker 134 at the Siskiyou Tanker Base, September 9, 2019 (Photo: U.S. Forest Service)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Local forestry officials are mourning the loss of three firefighters and the plane they were flying after a tragic crash in Australia.

Firefighters in Australia held a minute of silence Friday for three American colleagues killed in a plane crash as investigators began scouring the accident site in remote bushland.

The company that owned the plane, Coulson Aviation, has ordered all of its similar planes to be grounded as this investigation gets underway.

But even as this investigation is starting, there has been an outpouring of grief and a true show of love for the three firefighters who lost their lives.

The Klamath National Forest said the tragic events left the firefighting community deeply saddened, especially since the same air tanker that crashed helped put out the Lime Fire in Siskiyou County last year.

Yreka Agency Command Center aircraft dispatcher Ashley Dooley said, “It was and is always a privilege to work with these C-130 crews, knowing their extensive aviation background knowledge both in fire and military conditions.”

The crew members who died were identified as Captain Ian McBeth, First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, and Flight Engineer Rick Demorgan, Jr.

“Whether the wildfire is eight miles away or 8,000 miles away, the loss of T-134 is a stark reminder of how dangerous firefighting is,” said Klamath National Forest Supervisor Patty Grantham.

“We ask a great deal of our ground and aviation fire resources, and we always need to keep in mind no mission is simple or risk-free when it comes to wildfires. On behalf of myself, my family and the greater Klamath National Forest family, my heart goes out to the families and friends of the crew of T-134. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the crew of T-134 for their service.”

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