Breaking News
More () »

Wing reportedly fell off plane before crash that killed two fighting wildfire in Arizona

Two men died in a plane crash while fighting the Cedar Basin Fire on July 10.

PHOENIX — Editor's note: This video is from a previous broadcast.

A preliminary report released Tuesday in a fatal plane crash includes an account of the possibility that a wing fell off as the aircraft responded to a wildfire in northwestern Arizona. 

A retired fire chief and a U.S. Forest fire pilot were aboard the aircraft and died in the July 10 crash near Wikieup. The two were working to control the Cedar Basin Fire. 

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 wildfire. 

The preliminary report says a Wikieup couple later went to the crash site about a mile from their home and said BLM personnel told them they witnessed a wing fall off the plane in the air before it crashed.

RELATED: Retired Tucson fire chief, U.S. forest fire pilot dies in aircraft accident while fighting Cedar Basin Fire

The Bureau of Land Management identified one of the men aboard as 62-year-old Jeff Piechura, a retired fire chief with the Northwest Fire Department in the Tucson area.

The pilot was 48-year-old Matthew Miller, a fire pilot with Falcon Executive Aviation, Inc, contracted by the U.S. Forest Service, BLM said. 

The Cedar Basin Fire was caused by lightning and has burned about 450 acres, according to officials.  

Up to Speed

Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12 News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.