CALIENTE, Nevada, July 30, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Two pilots were killed Thursday when their air tankers collided in mid-air as they were helping to fight the Bishop Fire in southern Nevada.
A statement from the Bureau of Land Management Fire and Aviation said the collision involved two U.S. Department of the Interior-contracted Single Engine Air Tankers, or SEATs, and occurred approximately 17 miles southwest of Caliente.
The incident occurred at approximately 12:55 p.m., the statement said. Recovery operations are currently underway and initial notifications are still being made.
“We offer our sincere condolences to the families of the two pilots and to all those working with the BLM Nevada Ely District,” said BLM Nevada state director Jon Raby.
SEATs are small airplanes used to support firefighters on the ground, the statement added. They can deliver up to 800 gallons of fire retardant and operate in areas where larger air tankers cannot.
“Contract pilots play an important role in wildland firefighting efforts as the Bureau of Land Management protects the public, natural landscapes, wildlife habitat, recreational areas, and other values and resources,” the statement said.
The incident is under investigation, officials said.
Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information is made available.