Local News

C-130 MAFFS operations resume today

Crew was based out of North Carolina

A C-130 helping to fight a wildfire in South Dakota crashed Sunday night in the southwest corner of South Dakota, military officials said.

The USFS confirmed 4 people were killed and two others badly injured in the crash.

The cause of the crash is not known and the incident is under investigation.

The C-130 crashed while battling a fire in Southwestern South Dakota at approximately 6:30 p.m. on  Sunday.  It  belonged to the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing based at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

The aircraft, equipped with a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), was supporting firefighting efforts in the White Draw Fire, which has burned 4,200 acres 90 miles south of Rapid City, South Dakota.

A helicopter was able to land near the Air Force plane and took three people to Custer to be transported by ambulance to Rapid City Regional Hospital for further medical treatment, the Fall River County Sheriff's Office told the Rapid City Journal.

The C-130 was assisting a single engine air tanker with retardant drops.

All MAFFS were grounded on Sunday night.  Operational flying was suspended for one day to review flying and safety procedures, in the context of what is known so far about the crash of a MAFFS C-130 while fighting South Dakota's White Draw Fire. On Tuesday, MAFFS  were released to start fighting the wildfires again.  This is the first crash in the 40 year history of using MAFFS.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the U.S. Forest Service that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than 5 seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

There were eight MAFFS-equipped C-130s that have been helping with the Waldo Canyon Fire burning west of Colorado Springs.

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