Pilots killed in mid-air collision fighting Nevada blaze had taken-on fire retardant in Cedar City hour earlier

The Bishop Fire. Photo: Eastern Nevada Interagency Fire/Facebook

CALIENTE, Calif., July 31, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The two pilots who died in a mid-air collision of their single engine air tankers (SEATs) on Thursday while fighting Nevada’s Bishop wildfire made stops at the Cedar City Regional Airport about an hour earlier.

Chris Hanefox, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management Ely District, said the pilots stopped to load more fire retardant at the Southern Utah airport.

The fatal crash happened at about 12:55 p.m. Thursday, in the skiesĀ about 17 miles southwest of Caliente.

The pilots may have been from the Cedar City area, according to one source being quoted by media. That information has not yet been officially confirmed.

Gov. Gary Herbert released a statement after the crash:

“These pilots play a critical role in preserving life, property, and natural landscapes during wildfire season and I am grateful for their service. My prayers are with the families of these dedicated servants.”

The identities of the pilots have not yet been released. Their names will be released after notification of their families. Hanefox said he believes the SEATs were based in or near Mesquite, a Nevada city located near the Utah and Arizona borders.

The Bishop Fire, classified as human caused, has burned an estimated 14,000 acres since it started on Wednesday, July 29.

The fatal collision is under investigation. Gephardt Daily will have more information as it is released.


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