LAS VEGAS – Two pilots are dead after their airplanes collided while battling a 500-acre wildfire in southeastern Nevada, according to authorities.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the two pilots and to all those working with the BLM Nevada Ely District,” said Nevada's Bureau of Land Management State Director Jon Raby.
Recovery operations are still underway and initial notifications are still being made. The incident is under investigation.
The small airplanes that crashed were used to support firefighters on the ground, delivering up to 800 gallons of fire retardant in areas where larger airtankers can not.
The two single-engine Air Tractor AT8T airplanes collided in midair around 1 p.m. Thursday during firefighting activities to suppress the Bishop Fire, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Claire Morville.
The planes were involved in the firefighting operation, and one person was aboard each aircraft, Morville said.
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The fire started Wednesday in Rainbow Canyon – an area about 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas. The accident happened near the intersection of Kane Springs Road and Riggs Road, Morville said.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the collision. The NTSB will determine the probable cause of the accident.
This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette Journal: Bishop Fire: Pilots dead after planes crash while battling Nevada fire