US fire plane crash kills three

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The Independent US

Three people died when an air tanker lost its wings and crashed yesterday as fire crews were fighting wild fires in northern California.

Three people died when an air tanker lost its wings and crashed yesterday as fire crews were fighting wild fires in northern California.

And, within hours of the crash in the small mountain resort town of Walker, three firefighters were injured as they tried to corral a fire in southern California's Cajon Pass, 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

The accidents came as crews tackled 20 fires in 11 states and signalled a particularly dangerous fire season in the West. The northern California fire, in the Sierra Nevada near Yosemite National Park, destroyed at least one home and forced 400 people to evacuate as it consumed some 10,000 acres (4,000 hectares) of brush and forest near Walker.

The C-130 tanker made a pass over the fire then crashed. Video footage showed the aircraft's wings snapping off and flames erupting as the fuselage tumbled to the ground.

Mike Mandichak, who owns an car shop 150ft from the crash site, said."I'm standing here looking at the tail section," "My shop is right next door. It almost hit it."

Hours later in southern California, three firefighters suffered first-degree and second-degree burns to their hands, elbows and noses when flames engulfed their trucks. The heat peeled the paint off the parked fire engines.

Fires still rage in south-western Colorado and south-west of Denver, with many residents evacuated.

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