Wood County pilot dies in plane crash while monitoring Wisconsin wild fires.
Marshfield, WI (JusticeNewsFlash.com)–A pilot was killed trying to watch over a spreading fire on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 12 miles southwest of Marshfield, Wisconsin in Wood County. Heath Van Handel, 36, of Appleton was an experienced pilot who died in the fatal airplane crash as reported by the New Richmond News. Van Handel was working for Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources Agency (DNR) at the time of the accident. The agency has temporarily grounded all 10 of their airplanes and 11 pilots while they are investing the fatal plane crash.
Van Handel had been flying his plane, a 42-year-old aircraft, at a low altitude circling the fire, when the plane all of a sudden did a nosedive towards the ground. Authorities with DNR are working with state and federal departments to obtain maintenance records to determine the cause of the aviation accident. DNR officials also stated the grounding of the planes would not hamper the agencies fire-fighting efforts. Leaders may request airplane support and other fire fighting assistance from neighboring states. Officials stated the person who started the fire had been burning debris which caused the fire to spread over two acres. Van Handel had been a former commercial pilot and flight instructor. Van Handel was the first DNR to ever die on the job.
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