Two Firefighting Pilots Dead After Midair Collision During Nevada Fire

Currently, the incident is being investigated by local authorities.
Donovan Alexander

Sadly, on July 30 in Southeastern Nevada, two single-engine planes collided in midair, killing both pilots. The incident occurred in the early afternoon while battling the current massive 7000-acre fire in the region. According to authorities, recovery operations are still underway. 


"We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the two pilots and to all those working with the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Nevada Ely District," said the Bureau of Land Management's Nevada State Director Jon Raby. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will be spearheading the investigation, with the hope of determining the probable cause of the crash. 

What do we know about the collision? 

Based on the information provided by Nevada's Ely District Office, the midair collision occurred at around 12:55 p.m. Each plane only had one pilot on board. The incident involved two Department of the Interior-contracted Single Engine Air Tankers as they were battling Nevada's Bishop wildfire and occurred 17 miles southwest of Caliente.  

For the uninitiated, Single Engine Air Tankers or SEATs are small airplanes used to combat wildfires that support firefighters on the ground. Each plane can deliver up to 800 gallons of fire retardant. 

They are instrumental as SEATs are able to get into and operate within areas where large air tankers cannot. Contract pilots, like the ones who lost their lives today, play a vital role in wildland firefighting. 

The Bishop Fire continues to grow

Even though the Nevada Bishop fire continues to spread rapidly, Nevada authorities expect to get the fire completely under control.

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"Ground and aerial resources are fully suppressing the approximately 7000-acre Bishop Fire in Rainbow Canyon, about 17 miles southwest of Caliente, Nev. Full containment is expected Wednesday, Aug. 5," tweeted Nevada Fire Info.

An estimated 175 firefighters are currently battling the wildfire. They are also receiving assistance from the Lincoln County Fire Protection District, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Forest Service, and private contractors.

No private property or structures are currently being threatened by the Bishop fire. The fire is said to be so big that residents from the neighboring state of Utah can see a large column of smoke coming from the area. At the moment, authorities are unclear about the cause of the fire.  

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