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Fri, Aug. 19

2 firefighters die in plane crash near Wikieup

WIKIEUP - A small plane crashed at about noon Saturday, July 10 during a survey of a wildfire in rural Mohave County, killing both crew members.

The Beech C-90 aircraft was helping perform reconnaissance over the lightning-caused Cedar Basin Fire, near the tiny community of Wikieup northwest of Phoenix.

Officials on Sunday identified the victims as Air Tactical Group Supervisor Jeff Piechura, 62, a retired Tucson-area fire chief who was working for the Coronado National Forest, and Matthew Miller, 48, a pilot with Falcon Executive Aviation contracted by the U.S. Forest Service. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

The fire, which started with a lightning strike, is located 14 miles northeast of Wikieup, according to InciWeb, the federal wildland fire reporting site. It has burned 714 acres of brush and grass. About 45 firefighters and support personnel are fighting the fire.

High heat, and the potential for thunderstorms and outflow winds, are listed as weather concerns.

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