POLITICS

Small forest fighting plane crashes in northern Alberta, no word on injuries

05/22/2015 10:43 EDT | Updated 05/22/2016 05:59 EDT
COLD LAKE, Alta. - A small air tanker used for fire suppression crashed Friday afternoon about 100 kilometres east of Lac La Biche, Alta., killing the 37-year-old pilot and sole passenger.

Jeff Barry of Conair Aerial Firefighting, a contractor for the Alberta government, said the pilot was in his fourth firefighting season with the company.

"We've sent our accident investigation team and we'll be co-operating with the Transportation Safety Board and the Alberta ESRD (Environment and Sustainable Resource Development) folks will be there as well," said Barry.

Barry said the plane was a single-seater Air Tractor 802, known in the company as the "Fire Boss." The company's website said the amphibious plane is used to scoop up water from lakes or deliver fire retardent.

Incoming premier Rachel Notley offered her condolences to the pilot's family, friends and colleagues.

“First responders like this pilot, and our many other dedicated wildland fire fighters, put their lives on the line every day to ensure that our homes and families are safe," Notley said in a statement.

"We owe them our most sincere gratitude. Even as they mourn the loss of one of their own, I know they will continue fighting the many fires burning within our borders."

Notley also appealed to residents to respect the fire restrictions that are now in place in the province.

Crews in northern Alberta have been fighting wildfires for more than a week. As of Friday, more than two dozen fires were burning but none were listed as out of control.

Warm and dry conditions have increased the fire hazard to high or extreme in some areas.

The TSB said Friday it would send investigators to the scene on Saturday.

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