Colorado authorities said late Tuesday that the pilot operating a single-engine air tanker died after the plane crashed while extinguishing the flames.
The fatal crash occurred shortly after 6:30 p.m. in Larimer County while the victim tried to put down the Kruger Rock Fire.
It took more than three hours for search and rescue teams to locate the wreckage near the south end of Hermit Park.
“We are sad to report that the pilot and only occupant of the aircraft did not survive,” police said.
The doomed plane, an Air Tractor Flight Boss, had left Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland at 6:13 p.m. the engine can drop over 800 gallons of water or retardant per flight and up to 14,000 gallons in one hour.
The unidentified pilot had reportedly expressed how “excited” he was to fight the fire overnight.
“Pretty cool thing to be a part of, I think. This is the culmination of about five years of pretty hard work.”