Three Americans died after their C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker crashed while they were battling the devastating wildfires in Australia. The plane was on a firebombing mission in rural New South Wales when it went down. Authorities located the wreck, but have not been able to get close enough to look for survivors.
"The only thing I have from the field reports are that the plane came down, it's crashed, and there was a large fireball associated with that crash," Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said. "Unfortunately, all we've been able to do is locate the wreckage and the crash site, and we have not been able to locate any survivors."
Officials said they do not know what caused the plane to crash, and have grounded other aircraft as a precaution while they conduct an investigation into the tragic accident.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that they would fly flags at half-staff on Friday (January 24) to honor the U.S. firefighters.
"Today is a stark and horrible reminder of the dangerous conditions that our volunteers, our emergency services personnel across the number of agencies take on a daily basis," Berejiklian said. "It demonstrates the dangerous work currently being undertaken. It also demonstrates the conditions that our firefighters are working under."
Australia has been ravaged by fires since September. The fires have burned more than 25.7 million acres, killing 31 people and destroying more than 2,600 homes.
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