The Denver Post
Nov. 17—The pilot of a single-engine air tanker was killed Tuesday evening in a crash near one of the areas outside Estes Park under evacuation due to the Kruger Rock fire, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said.
The sheriff’s office received reports at 6:37 p.m. that the aircraft had crashed south of Estes Park. Crews immediately began searching the area and, at 9:49 p.m., the crash site was located near the south end of Hermit Park, sheriff’s officials said.
“We are sad to report that the pilot and only occupant of the aircraft did not survive,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation into the crash, sheriff’s officials said.
Authorities did not confirm whether the plane was fighting the Kruger Rock fire at the time of the crash.
Conor Cahill, a spokesperson for Gov. Jared Polis’s office, released the following statement to Denver7: “Our prayers are with the pilot, their family, their aviation family and the firefighting community.”
Rep. Joe Neguse, D- Lafayette, also released a statement on the air tanker crash: “Keeping the brave pilot and his family in my thoughts and prayers — and all of the brave first responders and firefighters protecting Estes Park and our entire community.”
The Kruger Rock fire first was reported around 7 a.m. Tuesday near Little Valley Road and Fish Creek Road. By evening, it had grown to 133 acres and was 15% contained. About 150 people worked to fight the fire during the day.
The wildfire was threatening buildings, but no damage had been reported by Tuesday evening. Residents and businesses in the areas of Little Valley, Hermit Park, Meadowdale, Big Elk Meadows and Pinewood Springs were ordered to evacuate.
U.S. 36 was closed between Lyons and Estes Park.
Denver7 contributed to this report
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