A C-130 that crashed while battling a fire in South Dakota’s Black Hills on Sunday belonged to the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing based at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Four of the six crew members on board were killed and two others are in the hospital in serious condition, according to the U.S. Northern Command.
The cause remains under investigation, but the U.S. Forest Service said an airplane flying ahead of the C-130 encountered a “severe downdraft” in the area where aircraft had been directed to drop retardant. The C-130 was equipped with a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, otherwise known as MAFFS, which is capable of dropping 3,000 gallons of water or retardant per second.
The Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado grounded seven other firefighting C-130s in the wake of the crash, but said it plans to resume flights soon. Flags in North Carolina were ordered to fly at half-staff on Tuesday.