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BC air tanker crashes while fighting battling wildfires in Australia

An air tanker owned by a Vancouver Island company crashed while battling wildfires in western Australia today.

Coulson Aviation, based in Port Alberni, confirmed that one of its 737 FireLiners, Tanker 139, crashed southeast of Perth around 4:15 pm local time.

The aircraft had two people on board at the time of the accident and, incredibly, both walked away from the accident.

They were picked up by a helicopter and taken to a local hospital, where they have since been checked and released.

“Our thoughts and our immediate concern is for those team members and their families,” said a statement from CEO Wayne Coulson. “We are very grateful the two team members on Tanker 139 are safe.”

Coulson said that the company is offering “all the support we can” to its local and international crews, and is grateful for the support being provided by industry colleagues in Western Australia.

Today’s crash comes just over three years after a similar incident in Eastern Australia that had a much more tragic outcome.

On Jan. 22, 2020, Ian McBeth, Paul Hudson and Rick DeMorgan were killed when their Coulson plane crashed during a wildfire in the New South Wales Snowy Mountain region.

Tanker 139 is one of the newest aircraft in Coulson’s fleet of six FireLiner tankers, which have been created from modified commercial passenger jets.

The company announced in January that Tanker 139 would be based in Sydney after Coulson received a two-year firefighting contract from the Australian government.



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