COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (RNN) - Four crew members died in the C-130 air tanker crash that led to the temporary grounding of the eight-plane fleet, the National Guard and National Interagency Fire Center confirmed.
Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal of Mooresville, NC, and Master Sgt. Robert Cannon of Charlotte were reported dead earlier Tuesday. Maj. Joseph McCormick of Belmont, NC, and Maj. Ryan David of Boone, NC, were also killed in the crash.
"The firefighting community extends its condolences to the families and friends of the deceased," the NIFC, a support center for wildland firefighting, said in its morning update Tuesday.
The National Guard confirmed two other members of the six-man crew were injured, but did not release their names. Family members confirmed Josh Marlowe of Shelby, NC, suffered serious injuries, reported WBTV.
The plane crashed about 6:30 p.m. Sunday while fighting the White Draw Fire near Edgemont, SD.
The C-130 was one of two from the Charlotte 145th Airlift Wing that were dispatched to help fight the fires in Colorado, determined the worst in the history of the state. The other tanker returned to North Carolina.
The six remaining air tankers will resume flying Tuesday after the Air Force temporarily grounded them following the crash.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives and to those of who were injured and especially to the family members of these Airmen," said Lt. Col. Robert Carver during a news conference Monday. "They are paramount on our minds."
The U.S. Northern Command said it grounded the planes temporarily as a "prudent measure."
"We all need to make sure our crews and planes will be ready to re-engage in the mission safely," said Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander.
There are eight planes nationwide equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), used to fight wildfires. All eight were dispatched to Peterson Air Force Base to help with the fires. Sunday night's crash was the first in the 40-year history of the program, a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Defense.
Other C-130s equipped to drop up to 3,000 gallons of water and fire retardant are based in California and Wyoming.
Two people were confirmed dead in the Waldo Canyon fire, and officials believe two more people are also dead. The fire was 70 percent contained as of Monday night.
The remains of the two victims were found on separate days last week at the same home.
Police Chief Pete Carey has told the Associated Press that fewer than 10 people are missing from the areas affected by the blaze.
Officials said the Waldo Canyon fire is now the most destructive is state history, burning 346 homes.
National Guard troops have been deployed to help Colorado Springs police deal with the disaster.
Officials have said more than 20,000 homes and 160 businesses were in danger from the potential spread of the fire.
The FBI in Denver is trying to determine whether the fire was started intentionally.
Evacuations are ongoing, and more than 36,000 people had been displaced as of Friday.
"We're still fighting with everything we've got," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach said hundreds of homes have been destroyed by blazes that ate through the city's neighborhoods and threatened the Air Force Academy.
Officials moved more than 500 cadets to safety Wednesday last week, although their living quarters were not immediately threatened. More than 1,000 new cadets were expected to arrive Thursday.
It was estimated that Red Cross shelters near the area had enough room to house about 2,500 people.
President Barack Obama toured parts of Colorado that have been ravaged by the blazes, where he visited with firefighters on Friday. He has declared Colorado a disaster area due to the Waldo Canyon and High Park wildfires, making the state eligible for federal aid.
"We're going to continue to make sure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Forest Service, our military and National Guard and all the resources that we have available at the federal level are brought to bear in fighting this fire," Obama said in his weekly radio and internet address Saturday.
The High Park Wildfire in Colorado was 100 percent contained Saturday afternoon.
The number of fires that have broken out mixed with shifting winds and dry weather has put a strain on available resources. Firefighters got a little help Thursday after winds calmed in many parts of the region.
"With over 10,000 firefighters in the Forest Service and the ability to get over 700 aircraft of all types, we're feeling cautiously confident when you look at the season as a whole," Harbour said.
Wildfires are also burning in central Utah and Billings, MO, destroying dozens of homes and leading to the evacuation of hundreds of people. The Bridger-Teton National Forest Fire in Wyoming had burned about 19 square miles as of Wednesday.
More than $3.2 million has been spent on the Waldo Canyon fire alone, and 1,200 personnel and six helicopters are fighting the blaze.
The multiple fires that have broken out in Colorado and other parts of the West are among some of the worst wildfire events of the past decade:
Largest fires in Colorado history:
1. Hayman (2002) - Burned 137,760 acres and killed five firefighters; $39 million in firefighting costs.
2. High Park Fire (2012), Larimer County - Burned 87,250 acres; $29.6 million in firefighting costs.
3. Missionary Ridge (2002) - Burned 71,739 acres and killed one firefighter; $40 million in firefighting costs.
4. Last Chance grassland (2012) - Burned 44,000 acres.
5. Trinidad Complex (2002) – Burned 33,000 acres; $2.18 million in firefighting costs.
Largest fires in U.S. history:
1. Peshtigo, WI (October 1871) - Burned 3.8 million acres and killed 1,500.
2. Idaho and Montana (August 1910) - Burned 3 million acres and killed at least 85.
3. Southern California (October 2003) - Burned more than 800,000 acres and killed 22.
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