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Wildfire-fighting plane crashes in Alberta, pilot killed


Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Saturday, May 23, 2015, 8:09 PM - The pilot of a plane that crashed during firefighting efforts in Alberta has died, according to media reports.

The crash occurred around 4:30 p.m. Friday around 100 km away from Lac la Biche.

"The 37-year-old male pilot did not survive the crash," Berry told The Weather Network in an email Saturday. "It was his fourth season with Conair."

Berry said the aircraft was an AT802 Fireboss, an amphibious air tanker built in 2009.

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Alberta has had at least one air firefighting death in recent years. In 2011, a helicopter pilot was pronounced dead at the scene after his aircraft crashed into a lake while fighting wildfires in the Slave Lake area.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, and the Transportation and Safety Board of Canada is sending a team to the area on Saturday.

As of Saturday morning, a fire burning in the Cold Lake area has burned around 3,000 hectares of land, and is out of control, according to Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

The wildfire in the Cold Lake Weapons Range, near Burnt Lake, is approximately 3000 hectares. Here are some photos...

Posted by Alberta Wildfire Info on Saturday, May 23, 2015

Oil company Cenovus has evacuated its facilities at Foster Creek as a precaution.

Since Friday, 15 new wildfires have been reported in Alberta. Fire bans and restrictions remain in place for much of the province. 

Firefighters have taken on more than 600 wildfires so far this year, compared to the provincial five-year average of 488.

Wildfire risk across Alberta is extreme due to relative lack of rain, with major wildfires also burning in B.C., where the Little Bobtail Lake fire has burned around 25,000 hectares. Firefighters have been struggling to quench the flames for more than two weeks, and the fire is now 80 per cent contained.

SOURCES: The Weather Network | Alberta Wildfire Info | B.C. Wildfire Management

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