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First Report Points To Wing Failure In Fatal Plane Crash Of Firefighting Personnel

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A preliminary report released Tuesday in a fatal plane crash near Wikieup includes an account of the possibility that a wing fell off. The July 10th crash killed two firefighting personnel who were responding to a wildfire in northwestern Arizona.

Arizona Bureau of Land Management officials said the plane went down as it was doing aerial reconnaissance and helping direct aviation resources over the lightning-caused blaze. The report says a couple from Wikieup went to the crash site near their home and were told by personnel with the Bureau of Land Management that a wing fell off the plane before it crashed. 62-year-old retired Fire Chief Jeff Piechura was killed in the crash, along with 48-year-old pilot Matthew Miller. Piechura worked for the Coronation National Forest. Miller was a fire pilot contracted by the U.S. Forest Service.

Meanwhile, authorities in Tucson say one person was killed and another critically injured after a small plane crashed Tuesday near a local airport. The Tucson Airport Authority says the single-engine, two-seat aircraft crashed near a runway at Ryan Airfield. The Federal Aviation Administration says the plane was attempting to land when it crashed. The FAA says the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The identities of the victims were not immediately released.

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