SYDNEY (AP) – A C-130 Hercules aerial water tanker with three aboard crashed Thursday while battling wildfires in the Snowy Monaro region of Australia’s southern New South Wales state, officials said.
It was not immediately clear the condition of those aboard, and there were few other initial details.
â€œThe only thing I have from the field reports are that the plane came down, it’s crashed and there was a large fireball associated with that crash,â€ Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters.
Also Thursday, Canberra Airport closed because of nearby wildfires, and residents south of Australia’s capital were told to seek shelter.
The blaze started Wednesday but strong winds and high temperatures caused conditions in Canberra to deteriorate. A second fire near the airport that started on Thursday morning is at the â€œwatch and actâ€ level.
â€œArrivals and departures are affected due to aviation firefighting operations,â€ the airport authority said in a tweet.
Another tweet from traffic police said â€œthe fire is moving fast and there are multiple road closures in the area. Please avoid the area. Local road blocks in place.â€
Residents in some Canberra suburbs were advised to seek shelter and others to leave immediately.
“The defense force is both assisting to a degree and looking to whether that needs to be reinforced,” Defense Minister Angus Campbell told reporters.
“I have people who are both involved as persons who need to be moved from areas and office buildings that are potentially in danger, and also those persons who are part of the (Operation) Bushfire Assist effort,” he said.