IRON COUNTY – The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Wednesday concerning the air tanker that crashed on June 3 while fighting the White Rock Fire.
According to the NTSB’s preliminary findings, the Lockheed PV2-7 heavy air tanker was making its second fire retardant drop of the day. “Tanker 11,” the call sign the air tanker went by, was following a lead plane into a drop zone in valley-area. The lead tanker dropped to an attitude of 150 feet above the intended drop zone with Tanker 11 mirroring its course. The report states, “While making the right turn on to final behind the lead plane, Tanker 11 impacted rising terrain that was about 700 feet left of the lead airplane’s flight path.”
Tanker 11 crashed into mountain terrain around 1:47 p.m., June 3, and occurred 20 miles north of Modena, Utah. Pilots Todd Neal Tompkins and Ronnie Edwin Chambless, both of Boise, Idaho, were killed in the crash.
Tanker 11 and its crew were involved in battling the White Rock Fire that started in Lincoln County, Nev., on June 1. The fire crossed into Iron County, Utah, on June 2, and ultimately grew to encompass 6,270 acres. The fire was 100 percent contained by June 8.
As the findings are preliminary, the NSTB report stated that some information is subject to change or may contain errors. Corrections will be featured in the final accident report.