Sun, Aug 21, 2005
Two Dead In Latest Crash
France's fire season has claimed the lives of two more pilots,
as that country continues to suffer a rash of losses among its
aerial firefighting forces similar to those in the United States
over the past several years.
Saturday's crash, the third in less than one month, involved a
U.S.-made Grumman Tracker aircraft that experienced an engine
failure as it made a drop run over a 15-hectare (37.5 acre) fire in
Valgorge, in France's Ardeche region. According to witnesses, the
airplane lost power just before it dropped its water cargo.
"According to initial information, the aircraft crashed and
exploded," said Patrick Duprat, head of the Ardeche prefecture's
"Two Canadair (firefighting aircraft) came to help to put out
A 43-year-old trainee and his 45-year-old instructor were killed
in the crash. At this time, it is not known which of the two men
was at the controls of the aircraft.
This summer, in particular, has been dangerous for France's
firefighting pilots. Two pilots were killed on August 1, when their
Canadair CL415 crashed in Haute Corse, on the French Mediterranean
island of Corsica. On July 19, another Tracker crashed in southern
France, its pilot fortunately escaping injury. The causes of both
accidents aren't yet known.
"This new appalling accident reminds us again of the heavy toll
which firefighters, pilots and co-pilots of the civil safety planes
pay each year in the fight against forest fires," said French
Interior Minister Nicolas Sarokzy following Saturday's crash.
French President Jacques Chirac also sent his condolences to the
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