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Pilot and 3 firefighters injured when Alaska Division of Forestry plane crashes near Aniak

The pilot of an Alaska Division of Forestry Aero Commander 500 Shrike that crashed into water near Aniak on Thursday afternoon, May 28, 2020, was hospitalized with serious injuries, officials said. Three firefighter passengers also were injured. (Alaska Department of Public Safety)

The pilot of an Alaska Division of Forestry plane that crashed into the water near Aniak on Thursday afternoon was hospitalized with serious injuries, officials say.

The plane experienced a loss of power in both engines before the crash, according to Clint Johnson, Alaska chief for the National Transportation Safety Board. State officials described the aircraft as an Aero Commander 500 Shrike.

The three passengers in the plane, wildland firefighters being relocated from Southwest Alaska to the Kenai Peninsula, suffered injuries ranging from minor to serious, Johnson said.

Alaska State Troopers identified the pilot as 53-year-old Mark Jordan, an Eagle River resident. He was transported by air to Providence Alaska Medical Center, where he was in fair condition Friday morning, a hospital spokesman said.

Officials with the state’s wildland fire division were not releasing the names of the passengers as of Friday morning. They were flown to the Alaska Native Medical Center on Thursday. Two are from Hooper Bay and one is from Aniak, Forestry fire spokesman Tim Mowry said.

The plane made a fuel stop in Aniak, then crashed on departure into a pool of water in a gravel pit, Johnson said.

The pilot of an Alaska Division of Forestry Aero Commander 500 Shrike that crashed into water near Aniak on Thursday afternoon, May 28, 2020, was hospitalized with serious injuries, officials said. Three firefighter passengers also were injured. (Alaska Department of Public Safety)

Investigators are just starting to look into the crash and working with the Division of Forestry to recover the plane and ferry it by sling to the airport, he said. The first report on their findings is expected to be released in about two weeks.

The purpose of the flight was to move the firefighters to Soldotna to “beef up” the initial attack force there given high fire danger, Mowry said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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