Firefighting plane crashes in Australia, killing 3 Americans

AP Top News

In this Saturday, Dec. 21 ,2019, photo, NSW Rural Fire Service crews fight the Gospers Mountain Fire as it impacts a structure at Bilpin. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday, Dec. 22, apologized for taking a family vacation in Hawaii as deadly bushfires raged across several states, destroying homes and claiming the lives of two volunteer firefighters.(Dan Himbrechts/AAP Images via AP)

SYDNEY (AP) – Three American crew members have died when a C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker crashed while battling wildfires in southeastern Australia.

The New South Wales premier confirmed the crash deaths in the state’s Snowy Monaro region as Australia attempts to deal with an unprecedented fire season that has left a large swath of destruction.

Coulson Aviation in the U.S. state of Oregon says one of its Lockheed large air tankers was lost after it left Richmond in New South Wales with retardant for a firebombing mission.

The tragedy brings the death toll from the blazes to at least 31 since September. Coulson grounded other firefighting aircraft as a precaution pending investigation, reducing planes available to firefighters in New South Wales and neighboring Victoria state.

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