Dutch pilot dies fighting French fires

16th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

MONTPELLIER, France, Aug 14 (AFP) - A Dutch pilot died while fighting forest fires in southwestern France on Sunday when his Morane biplane crashed into the sea, police said.

MONTPELLIER, France, Aug 14 (AFP) - A Dutch pilot died while fighting forest fires in southwestern France on Sunday when his Morane biplane crashed into the sea, police said.

The plane had just dropped two loads of fire-retardant chemicals on a fire at a gypsy camp near Serignan and was preparing to drop a third when witnesses said the plane nose-dived into the sea shortly after 1:00pm some 300m off the coast, police said.

The 49-year-old pilot was a certified flyer for the private company MidAir.

The two-seater Morane biplane is frequently leased by local governments to monitor fires.

The fire destroyed 15 caravans and 24 other vehicles at the unauthorized gypsy encampment, a local official told AFP, adding that it was unknown whether the fire was accidental or criminal.

A spokesman for the gypsies said 150 caravans were parked at the camp before the fire.

They were planning to go to nearby Pamiers to take part in an evangelical rally, he said, adding that everyone had escaped the blaze.

Copyright AFP


Subject: French news, fire, southwest France, crash, Dutch pilot

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