RENO — A firefighting air tanker making one last run to drop retardant on a blaze in the Sierra Nevada on Monday evening crashed on takeoff from an airfield just north of Reno, killing all three crew members on board.
The twin-engine P2V air tanker owned by Neptune Aviation of Missoula, Mont., had been fighting a wildfire earlier in the day that had forced evacuations over the weekend in California’s Alpine County near Hope Valley south of Lake Tahoe, Reno fire spokesman Steve Frady said.
Names of the three confirmed dead in the crash. had not been released, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Preliminary reports from witnesses suggested the tanker lost a piece of its engine or a wing after its 6:11 p.m. takeoff from Reno-Stead Airport before it caught fire and went down about a half-mile away, he said.