Water bomber fighting forest fires in Labrador goes down, pilots safe
Trans-Labrador Highway near Wabush, Newfoundland is closed on Saturday, June 29, 2013. (Neil Simmons/ THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, July 3, 2013 6:59PM EDT
WABUSH, N.L. -- Two pilots are safe after a water bomber ended up in a lake Wednesday while fighting forest fires near the western Labrador town of Wabush.
Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Transportation and Works says officials were notified around 3:30 p.m. that a Bombardier 415 water bomber was involved in an incident while picking up water at Moosehead Lake.
It says in a news release that both the pilot and co-pilot did not sustain any injuries as a result of the incident.
The province says it won't comment further and the incident has been reported to Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board. The province will also conduct its own investigation.
Bruce Mullen of the Transportation Safety Board's Atlantic region office said preliminary reports indicate something happened as the aircraft was taking on water for a bombing run.
"When the aircraft was riding along the surface of the water, picking up water, it appears that something went amiss and the aircraft had an incident and impacted the water," said Mullen.
Mullen said he didn't know the extent of the damage to the plane but it was still floating on the surface of the lake.
He said the pilots were treated by paramedics at the scene and released without injury.
Mullen said the safety board will work with police and provincial officials at the scene but would not be sending its own investigators. The aircraft's black boxes will be removed and sent to Ottawa for analysis, he said.
Crews have been battling forest fires in the area for more than a week.
At one point, a voluntary evacuation order was issued that prompted most of the town's residents to leave their homes, but that has since been lifted.
The fire has consumed around 700 square kilometres of land since it began.