Estes Park Kruger Rock Fire Quickly Grows, Air Tanker Crashes, and Pilot Dies

Kruger Rock Firefighters constructing handlines along the north and east sides. (Picture provided by Resources Advisor on Division Whiskey)

Blaine Howerton | North Forty News

November 19 – The Kruger Rock Fire in South Estes Park started on November 16. It was initially 20 acres. At 9:15 am on November 16, the Larimer County Sheriff began issuing evacuations.

The fire quickly grew out of control. By afternoon, the fire had reached over 100 acres with no containment.

At 1 pm on November 16, North Forty News shared LETA 911 notifications to our subscribers and posted an article with an update.

Larimer County ordered additional fire resources. One of which was an “as needed” contract with CO Fire Aviation (Fort Morgan, CO). A small fixed-wing plane would be used to dump fire retardants and water in spots. Larimer County reported the conditions were too dangerous to fight the fire directly. An initial successful drop was made. The pilot reported ok conditions and then went for a tank refill for a second drop.

When the pilot returned, he reported turbulent conditions and went to make a second pass before making the drop. That’s when fire crews heard a crash.

Resources were immediately deployed to begin searching for the wreckage. The plane was located near the south end of Hermit Park at approximately 9:49 p.m. The pilot was recovered from the wreckage on the morning of November 17, and the FAA and NTSB were also on scene to begin their investigation.

CO Fire Aviation has identified their pilot as Marc Thor Olson and has stated he was an extremely skilled veteran pilot.

Marc Thor Olsen (Photo courtesy 442fw.afrc.af.mil)

By 12 pm, November 17, Larimer County reported improving conditions and rescinded evacuation orders.

By the morning of November 18, the US Forest Service reported the fire to be 147 acres with 60% containment.

For the latest information on the Kruger Rock Fire, visit larimer.org/kruger-rock-fire.

 

 

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