California Air National Guard planes grounded after North Carolina plane crashes
The two firefighting aircraft from the California Air National Guard deployed to Colorado to battle the blazes there have been grounded after the crash of a similar aircraft from the North Carolina Air National Guard, officials announced Monday.
All seven aircraft from Wyoming, Colorado, North Carolina and California have been grounded to allow their crews to "reflect, reset and review," said Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander. "We all need to make sure our crews and planes will be ready to reengage in the mission safely."
The decision came after a C-130 from the North Carolina Air National Guard, with six crew members, crashed Sunday night in South Dakota while fighting the White Draw Fire.
The crash was the first in the 40-year history of the joint firefighting effort between the U.S. Forest Service and Department of Defense.
The two C-130J aircraft from the 146th Airlift Wing of the California Air National Guard left Saturday from the Channel Islands station to join the Colorado effort.
No date has been set when the aircraft will resume operations. Each C-130 can drop 3,000 gallons of water or retardant in less than five seconds.
President Barack Obama on Monday called the crew members of the North Carolina plane "heroes who deserve the appreciation of a grateful nation."
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: C-130J from the California Air National Guard. Credit: California Air National Guard