Yreka, CA. January 24, 2020 – Every time a wildland firefighting tragedy occurs, the international wildland firefighting community is affected and deeply saddened. Part of the tragedy has hit home in Siskiyou County with the recent loss of Coulson Aviation Tanker 134 during firefighting operations in New South Wales, Australia on January 23, 2020.
“Tanker 134 was utilized multiple times on and around the Klamath National Forest during 2019,” commented Yreka Interagency Command Center aircraft dispatcher Ashley Dooley. “During the Lime Fire in September last year, T-134 painted the sky pink along the California-Oregon border. I personally monitored them on an aviation activity computer screen, tracking their every move and diverting them to priority fires over the radio. It was and is always a privilege to work with these C-130 crews, knowing their extensive aviation background knowledge both in fire and military operations.”
In an earlier Coulson Aviation news release, deceased crew members were identified as Captain Ian McBeth, First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson, and Flight Engineer Rick Demorgan, Jr.
“Whether the wildfire is eight miles away or 8,000 miles away, the loss of T-134 is a stark reminder of how dangerous firefighting is,” stated Klamath National Forest Supervisor Patty Grantham. “We ask a great deal of our ground and aviation fire resources, and we always need to keep in mind no mission is simple or risk-free when it comes to wildfire. On behalf of myself, my family and the greater Klamath National Forest family, my heart goes out to the families and friends of the crew of T-134. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the crew of T-134 for their service.”