Plane fighting wildfire crashes into Lake Livingston, reportedly rescued by onlookers
POLK COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - A plane contracted to assist in battling the wildfires in Polk County crashed into Lake Livingston Tuesday evening.
The Texas A&M Forest Service said that a Fire Boss single engine air tanker/scooper went down in the lake around 5 p.m. The pilot was one of several in the area fighting fires in the Corrigan area.
The Forest Service says that the pilot was quickly rescued from the lake and taken to shore and was initially treated at the scene. He was then taken to the hospital. He is expected to survive, but his condition is unknown.
“When we get aircraft involved in fighting these fires, it’s a very hazardous situation for the pilots, for many reasons,” Ryan Burns with Texas A&M Forest Service said. “So, if you ever see aircraft involved in fighting fire or hear of a flight restriction, be sure to mind that. Especially with personal drone flights. We encourage folks to keep those grounded and keep the air free for our resources.”
Onalaska City Administrator Angela Stutts said this crash happened near the Bridgeview subdivision on the lake.
She said residents saw the plane go down, jumped into a boat, and rescued the pilot out of the water and brought him back to shore.
Texas A&M Forest Service does not own any aviation resources but instead uses federal aviation contracts through the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management for all firefighting aircraft.
No word yet on what caused the crash.
The Trinity River Authority has enacted an ordinance closing the immediate area of the U.S. 190 causeway and area boat ramps for 24 hours to allow for the investigation of the incident.
“Closed boat ramps will have traffic cones restricting access. Do not remove cones to gain access. This action is for public protection as well as preservation of the accident area for investigation,” a news release stated.
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