Australian firefighting plane crashes, causes new fire

A tragic twist in the effort to control the fires around Sydney left one dead

Topics: Wildfire, Australia, Firefighters, Natural Disasters,

As the intense wildfires burning across Australia began to ease Thursday morning, a pilot continuing to douse flames around Sydney fatally crashed into a national park, igniting yet another blaze. From the Associated Press:

The 43-year-old man was the only person on board and was trying to drop water onto a blaze in extremely rugged terrain near Ulladulla, south of Sydney, when his plane went down, Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said.

“He’s a husband with young children and we’re all acutely aware that there’s a family suffering … because their dad hasn’t come home,” an emotional Fitzsimmons said, pausing to compose himself. “We’re also feeling for the firefighting community.”

About 23 of the fires remain out of control as of Thursday morning, including three that authorities fear may combine into one mega-fire, according to Reuters. So far, they’ve burned through over 300,000 acres, destroying about 200 homes and leaving one other person dead. Authorities worry that hot, dry weather ahead could mean that the worst isn’t yet over.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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