Two Arizona firefighters died in a plane crash on Saturday while they were responding to a wildfire that started one day earlier.
The incident occurred on Saturday afternoon during an aerial reconnaissance and command and control mission around what has been dubbed the Cedar Basin Fire.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) said it is working with local, state and federal agencies to respond to the crash.
"Our hearts go out to the families of our brave wildland firefighters," BLM said in a statement.
Additional information about the incident will be released following a next of kin notification.
CRD - #CedarBasinFire - @BLMArizona Statement related to aviation accident on the Cedar Basin Fire, 14 mi NE of Wikieup, AZ.— Bureau of Land Management - Arizona (@BLMArizona) July 11, 2021
Full statement available on Inciweb: https://t.co/NQs6LQ9WnU#AZFire pic.twitter.com/RTOovNUabt
One local resident, Michele Machholz, told The Arizona Republic that she had been keeping track of the fire all day on Saturday. She said that when she looked out her kitchen shortly before 1 p.m., she saw what she initially believed to be a turkey vulture in the sky.
"It's not a turkey vulture, it's an airplane," Machholz told her husband, whom she had been speaking to on the phone.
"And it's coming down at an angle that ... you don't traditionally see airplanes flying at this angle," she added. "It was coming down at a steep angle."
Machholz said she was silent for about three seconds as she saw the plane "slam into the ground."
"I'm screaming on the phone and 'Oh my gosh. It just crashed. I can't believe it,'" Machholz said to the newspaper. "I'm trying to tell my husband that this airplane just crashed and there was this big black plume of giant black smoke."
The Cedar Basin Fire has so far burned around 300 acres. About 45 personnel are currently fighting the fire, the Republic reports.