Lake Havasu City, AZ

Cedar Basin Fire took the life of 2 Arizona firefighters

Scott Murdoch

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Lake Havasu City, AZ — The Bureau of Land Management is coordinating with other local, state, and federal authorities in the aftermath of a wildland firefighting plane crash that killed both crew members. Their bodies were discovered at the accident scene.

The incident happened at noon on July 10 as part of the initial effort on the Cedar Basin Fire in northern Arizona, 14 miles east of Wikieup. The Cedar Basin Fire began on the evening of July 9 as a result of thunderstorms and lightning in the region and now has a size of 714 acres. The accident site is half a mile south of the Cedar Basin Fire's burn area.

Pilot Matthew Miller, 48, and Air Tactical Group Supervisor Jeff Piechura, 62, were on board a Beechcraft King Air C-90 aircraft to do visual reconnaissance and aviation command and control over the fire. Miller worked as a firefighter with the US Forest Service's Falcon Executive Aviation, Inc. while Piechura worked for the Coronado National Forest as a ranger.

"Our hearts and most sincere condolences are with the families, friends and colleagues of both individuals lost in this tragic accident," said BLM Arizona State Director Raymond Suazo. "This reminds us of the inherent risks involved in wildland firefighting and the gratitude we owe to the courageous and committed men and women who serve willingly to protect lives, communities and natural resources."

The accident is being investigated by the Department of Interior's Office of Aviation Services, which is working with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

More information on Cedar Basin Fire can be acquired through a phone call to 928-889-1057, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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