Air Force Grounds Air Tankers After Fatal Crash
C-130 went down yesterday while fighting South Dakota wildfire
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 2, 2012 4:21 PM CDT
In this file photo, a crew prepares a C-130 MAFFS 7 (Modular Airborne FireFighting System) cargo plane to battle a wildfire, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.    (AP Photo/North Carolina Air National Guard, Michael Wilber)

(Newser) – The US Air Force has grounded all C-130 firefighting planes after one crashed while battling a wildfire in South Dakota yesterday, CNN reports. About three dozen of the aircraft are grounded until further notice. "There were lives lost, there were injuries" in yesterday's crash, said North Carolina National Guard spokesman Lt Col Robert Carver, who divulged little else. But he did say the crash was under investigation, and a hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota, is treating the survivors.

Yesterday's tragedy follows two other air-tanker crashes during the past two months, including one in western Utah while firefighters battled the now-contained White Rock Fire. Such tankers "come out when everything else is exhausted," Carver said. "When they put fire retardant down on the leading edge of the fire, it's very effective in keeping the fire from advancing." Each plane is capable of dropping 3,000 gallons of fire retardant or water in mere seconds, coating an area 100 feet wide by a quarter mile long, according to the Air Force.