(Screenshot courtesy US GEOMAC Wildland Fire Support map)

(Screenshot courtesy US GEOMAC Wildland Fire Support map)

Plane fighting wildfire crashes near Canada/U.S. border

The plane experienced an unknown problem.

A plane fighting a large wildfire near the Canada/U.S. border between Rossland and Christina Lake crashed Tuesday afternoon. The pilot survived the crash and was transported to hospital.

The plane was working on the Horns Mountain fire in Washington state on Tuesday afternoon when multiple governmental organizations reported an “aviation mishap” around 2 p.m. The fire is located 800 metres south of the Canada/U.S. border in Stevens County, southeast of Christina Lake.

In a statement Tuesday night, aircraft owner Air Spray said via the Washington State Department of Natural Resources the plane experienced an unknown problem while working on the fire. The pilot executed a forced landing on a logging road, was able to exit the plane and was taken to hospital.

“We are very relieved to learn that the pilot was able to walk away from this incident,” said incident commander Brian Goff, who is heading the team managing the fire in a statement. “Firefighting aircraft work closely with ground firefighters to contain the fire. They are all part of the team. I admire the skill and bravery they exhibit on every fire.”

The Horns Mountain fire is noted as the Santa Rosa fire on the B.C. Wildfire Service map, but information is available through American InciWeb Incident Information System. The fire prompted the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary to issue evacuation orders on Santa Rosa Road near Christina Lake and in the Big Sheep Creek drainage near Rossland on Sunday.

The fire, located in Colville National Forest, was 838 acres Tuesday morning and five per cent contained. More than 200 firefighters are working to contain the blaze, as well as multiple helicopters, a fixed-wing air attack plane and five FireBoss planes. Multiple early reports indicate it was a FireBoss plane that crashed.

Fire Boss planes carry 820 gallons (3,100 litres) of water and 35 gallon (132 litres) tanks of flame retardant foam.

No further information was immediately available Tuesday and an investigation is ongoing, the company said.