Locals distraught after firefighting plane crash in Estes Park

Local News

ESTES PARK, Colo. (KDVR) — Circumstances surrounding the plane crash outside Estes Park involving a firefighting aircraft have become more apparent.

Investigators told FOX31 ground crews heard the plane crash near the Kruger Rock Fire.

At one point, the pilot reported the wind wasn’t bad. But moments later, he said the weather was turbulent and then the plane went down in Hermit Park.

The crash left many people distraught.

“We shed tears around the dinner table last night. It just moved us to tears because it was my family’s home he was trying to help protect. We are grateful for him,” homeowner Meghan Theiss said.

The plane that crashed was the first fixed-wing used to battle fires at night in Colorado.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said it contracted the aircraft because of its versatility in dealing with steep terrain and windy conditions.

Sheriff Justin Smith told FOX31 the plane was making passes to help determine if it was capable of helping fight the fire.

The blaze was so worrisome, the congregation at the Cornerstone Church of Estes Valley gathered and prayed.

“The smoke was just billowing up over the hill. The wind was blowing in the opposite direction so we felt pretty safe even though it was fairly close to us,” Cornerstone Church of Estes Valley Pastor Bruce Finger said.

Members had an early Thanksgiving saying they were grateful the fire has stayed away so far.

Member Ardean Johnson has been told she can go home but she’s still too afraid.

“I’m trying to be calm and waiting. I’m not ready to come home with it just being 15% (contained) because of the winds you never know which direction they are going to go,” Johnson said

So, the praying continues, and the Kruger Rock Fire continues to lose steam. It’s already caused too much heartache.

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