Plane carrying firefighters crashes in Alaska

All four on board survive

Aniak aircraft Crash
The wreckage of an Alaska Division of Forestry aircraft that crashed on takeoff at the Aniak, Alaska airport, May 28, 2020. Photo by David Mattson.

The Alaska Division of Forestry reported that four of their employees survived a plane crash near the western Alaska village of Aniak today, May 28 at approximately 4 p.m.

(Click here to see an update on this incident, posted May 29, 2020, and here to see another posted May 30, 2020)

The DOF said the plane, owned by the DOF, crashed into the Kuskokwim River on takeoff. There were four people on board, including the pilot, and all four individuals suffered injuries. The seriousness of the injuries is unknown at this time.

Aniak aircraft Crash
The wreckage of an Alaska Division of Forestry aircraft that crashed on takeoff at the Aniak, Alaska airport, May 28, 2020. Photo by David Mattson.

Alaska State Troopers and local Emergency Services personnel responded to the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration have been notified.

The plane, an Aero Commander 500 Shrike, was transporting emergency firefighters from two western Alaska villages to Soldotna to support initial attack wildfire responses for the Kenai/Kodiak Area Forestry station.

David Mattson, who runs a shop near the runway, took these photos. He said the water at the site was shallow enough that personnel waded in and rescued the four individuals. He said the aircraft crashed into a gravel pit pond near the river about 2.5 miles west of the northwest end of the runway, rather than in the river as reported by the DOF. Another resident of Aniak confirmed the crash was in the gravel pit.

Aniak Airport
Aniak, Alaska Airport. Google Earth.

10 thoughts on “Plane carrying firefighters crashes in Alaska”

  1. The Anchorage Daily News: “The injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, said Tim Mowry, a spokesman with the Division of Forestry’s Wildland Fire and Aviation Program.” and “Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the crash during a virtual town hall meeting Thursday evening. Dunleavy said that based on preliminary information, injuries included “bumps, bruises, contusions.”

    1. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DC 910 SUPER TANKER JET THATS WHAT YOU PEOPLE SHOULD BE USING AND THE 911 THOSE PLANES WILL PUT OUT THE FIRES IF YOU USE THEM IN A HURRY.amoser4160@aol.com I HAVE WATCHED THESE PLANES IN SERVICE AT THE TIMES OF FOREST FIRES LAST YEAR.

      1. All 4 will be on contract this year, 2 already are on. This plane that crashed was used for air tactical a lot during fire season, it was helping in Oregon in 2018 when the AK season ended early.

      2. No air tanker “puts out the fires.” The hardworking, underpaid men and women on the ground are the ones actually putting the fires out.

        1. Wrong! The tankers stop the spread of the fire and thus stop the fire from spreading. The folks on the ground do the clean up work and and put out hot spots.

  2. Three 13 year old boys were at the scene at the moment of the crash. They jumped into the water and pulled the injured out of the plane, bringing them back to shore. Why hasn’t mattson recognized them?

  3. This article identifies victims and rescuers https://akfireinfo.com/2020/05/29/local-responders-to-aniak-plane-crash-praised-injured-state-forestry-personnel-recovering/ . The injuries are more serious than I’d read and shared about. All were hospitalized, one recently released. https://akfireinfo.com/2020/05/29/local-responders-to-aniak-plane-crash-praised-injured-state-forestry-personnel-recovering/ . Bill, thanks for sharing this early with all of us.

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