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Aviation

Four people injured when Division of Forestry plane crashes in Western Alaska

Aerial view of the Aniak Airport on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Aniak Slough, lower left, and the Kuskokwim River, right, border the village of Aniak. (Bill Roth / ADN archive)

Four people onboard a state Division of Forestry plane were injured after it crashed into the Kuskokwim River on Thursday afternoon, officials said.

The injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, said Tim Mowry, a spokesman with the Division of Forestry’s Wildland Fire and Aviation Program.

The plane was carrying Division of Forestry employees and crashed on takeoff from the village of Aniak in Western Alaska, the Division of Forestry said in an online post.

“The plane, an Aero Commander 500 Shrike, was transporting emergency firefighters from two Western Alaska villages to Soldotna to support initial attack responses for the Kenai/Kodiak Area Forestry station,” the Division of Forestry said in the post.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy announced the crash during a virtual town hall meeting Thursday evening. Dunleavy said that based on preliminary information, injuries included “bumps, bruises, contusions.”

The nature and cause of the accident were not immediately clear Thursday evening. Mowry said that both the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration had been notified.

NTSB Alaska chief Clint Johnson said the agency was investigating the accident and that details were forthcoming. The federal agency is working with Alaska State Troopers and the Division of Forestry as they gather more information.

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