Two air tankers collide mid-air while helping fight Nevada wildfire

Two air tankers helping extinguish a large wildfire in southern Nevada collided midair on Thursday, federal officials said.

The conditions of the two pilots wasn’t immediately known. The sheriff in Lincoln County, where the collision occurred, didn’t respond to a request for comment Thursday night.

A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said that neither aircraft was able to land.

Smoke from the Bishop Fire in Rainbow Canyon, about 17 miles southwest of Caliente, Nev. on July 29, 2020.Eastern Nevada Interagency Fire

The cause of the 1 p.m. incident also wasn’t immediately clear, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. There was one pilot aboard each single-engine Air Tractor AT8T, the department said.

The planes had been dispatched to help fight the Bishop Fire, a 14,000-acre blaze burning on federal land roughly 150 miles northeast of Las Vegas, according to Nevada Fire Information, a site with state and federal fire data.

The fire started Wednesday, the site said. Its cause was listed as “human,” though no additional details were available. The site said “extreme, record-breaking heat” could fuel the blaze.