3 dead from the plane crash at Denali Park

A Fairchild C-123 cargo plane registered to All West Freight Inc. of Delta Junction crashed last Sunday afternoon and burst into a deadly fireball that sparked a small woodland fire at Denali National Park.

Wreckage of the C-123 aircraft which crashed at the Denali National Park (Photo courtesy of Denali National Park and Preserve)

Three people aboard were killed according to park spokeswoman Kris Fister. The Park Service is not releasing the names until families are notified. She said that the first responders got to the plane within minutes, but the wreckage was aflame. “The plane pretty much disintegrated,” Fister stated.

The C-123 went down near the park’s eastern edge at 3:15 p.m., about 200 yards north of the only major road in the park and about a mile from the park headquarters. It crashed into the south side of Mount Healy, Fister added. “There were people on the road, buses, other vehicles. The plane coming in was witnessed probably by numerous people,” she said. Also she claims that despite some witness accounts, the plane is not military.

The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive on scene Monday morning.

Witness George Clare, of Las Vegas, said he saw the plane flying very low and slowly while he was walking toward the visitor’s center near the park entrance. He thought the plane was going to land on a local airstrip, so he proceeded to the visitor’s center. Within minutes, people came running in and saying a plane had crashed. “It was a military khaki green kind of color,” Clare said. “It was propeller-driven. It was a fixed-wing aircraft, and it had kind of a flat underbelly.” He also said the crash caused a column of smoke west of the visitor’s center.

Fister said the fire was initially about one-half acre and grew to about an acre before it was contained. The Alaska Fire Service dispatched eight smoke jumpers to the scene, said Doug Stockdale of the Alaska Fire Service. Park fire crews and volunteer firefighters from the area also fought the blaze.

The park road remains open, but the Rock Creek and Roadside trails, which link the park headquarters and the Denali Visitor Center, are in the area of the crash and are closed.

The Fairchild C-123 was a military transport aircraft which was built for the US Air Force. The C-123 which recently crashed at Denali Park and has the registration N709RR, was the same aircraft used for the main setting of the 1997 film “Con Air.”



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