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Military: C-130 tankers to resume firefighting

By Dan Elliott

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, July 3 2012 10:15 a.m. MDT

DENVER — Six Air Force C-130 tankers will resume firefighting flights Tuesday after a deadly crash of another tanker plane over the weekend, the U.S. Northern Command said.

The entire remaining fleet of seven planes was grounded after one of the specially equipped C-130s crashed Sunday while fighting a wildfire in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

The C-130 was from an Air National Guard wing based in Charlotte, N.C., and was carrying a crew of six. At least two crew members died and others were injured.

Northern Command, which oversees the planes while they are on firefighting duty, said the one-day suspension of flights was to review safety procedures.

A second C-130 from the North Carolina Air National Guard will return to its home base in Charlotte, said Maj. Kimberly Holman, a Northern Command spokeswoman.

The decision to suspend the C-130 flights left just 14 federally contracted heavy tankers in use during one of the busiest and most destructive wildfire seasons ever to hit the West.

Military officials declined to discuss details of the crash, but they said there were some crew members who were being treated for serious injuries at a hospital in Rapid City, S.D.

South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard announced Tuesday that two people had died in the crash. He didn't identify either victim.

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