The Larimer County Sheriff (LCSO) said a veteran Colorado Army and Air Force pilot who fought the Kruger Mountain fire was killed Tuesday night in the crash of a single-engine aerial tanker using a new method of night-time firefighting.
Mark Thor Olson, who flew to Fort Morgan-based CO Fire Aviation, reported turbulent conditions ahead of the crash, which was first reported at about 18:37. The crash site was discovered by the crews around 21:49, near the southern tip. from Hermit Park, officials said.
The pilot was tasked with airing the Kruger mountain range, which flared up after a tree hit a power line in the early morning hours of strong winds.
Following the water droplets on Tuesday afternoon, the pilot said the wind at the time was “not too strong in the fire,” and returned to Loveland to prepare for a second air crash, according to the LCSO.
“About an hour later, the plane returned to the fire, and the pilot told ground services that the fire had caused a storm, the conditions were not ideal for disembarkation, and that he was going to make another overflight and then return to Loveland,” the sheriff’s office said. … “Moments later, at about 18:37, ground services heard the plane crash.”
The sheriff’s office clarified that Olson was the only person on the plane at the time of the crash. On Thursday, he was identified by his employer CO Fire Aviation in a Facebook post that called him “one of our brothers.”
“Mark Thor Olson was an honored veteran of the Army and Air Force who served for 32 years for the good of our country. In 42 years of Thor’s flights, it has flown over 8,000 hours with an impressive 1,000 hours of NVG flight, including in combat and civilian flights, ”the company said in a statement.
The company said it is working with authorities and partners while an investigation is underway. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was investigating the crash.
“Although we are seriously aware of the inherent dangers of air fire fighting and the outstanding issues; we ask that family and friends be given distance and time to process and heal as we mourn this loss. We appreciate your prayers during this difficult time, ”the company added.