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Pilot survives as Fire Boss plane goes down in Ferry County

UPDATED: Tue., Aug. 14, 2018

In this photo released by The Eastern Area Incident Management Team, a Fire Boss plane, top left, a fixed wing aircraft used in wild land fire suppression, continues to battle a wildfire in eastern Washington state Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. (Eastern Area IMT / AP)
In this photo released by The Eastern Area Incident Management Team, a Fire Boss plane, top left, a fixed wing aircraft used in wild land fire suppression, continues to battle a wildfire in eastern Washington state Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018. (Eastern Area IMT / AP)

A Fire Boss plane went down in Ferry County this afternoon while fighting one of the 70 fires that sparked east of the Cascades after the lightning storms and winds Saturday.

According to the Department of National Resources, the aircraft’s engine failed while fighting a fire, forcing the pilot to leave the fire line and making a hard landing on a logging road. He was able to exit the aircraft and was taken to a hospital. Joe Smillie, spokesman for the Department of Natural Resources, said the pilot may have a few broken ribs, but no other serious injuries were reported.

Smillie said the plane was owned by the aircraft contracting company Air Spray USA and the pilot was an employee of the company. He said the engine failure is under investigation.

The plane was one of five Fire Boss planes fighting the Horn Mountain Fire which is burning through the Colville Forest. Smillie said there is 229 fire fighters, two mid-sized helicopters and one Washington National Guard Black Hawk helicopter fighting the 838-acre fire.

He said the Department of Natural Resources has not determined an official cause.

Smillie said most of the 70 fires that sparked across Washington over the weekend were contained quickly, but some, such as the Kelly Mountain Fire north of Republic, and the Boyd’s Fire near Kettle Falls, are still not contained.

Jill Jones, the manager at the Northeast Washington Interagency Communication Center, said 48 fires have started over the past four days. About 35 started Saturday.

Isabelle Hoygaard, the public information officer for the Kelly Mountain Fire said the blaze has burned about 23 acres and preliminary handlines are in place. The fire, which started Saturday morning has not caused evacuations in the surrounding areas, near Kelly Mountain and Northfork Trout Creek.

The Boyd’s fire, which has burned about 2,922 acres since it started late Saturday afternoon is also not contained, DNR public information officer Daniel Omdal said. He said 400 crew members are working on the fire and there are level three evacuations in the surrounding area.

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