An air tanker crashed near Estes Park during a history-making night flying mission in Colorado. The single-engine plane was part of the firefighting response deployed to the Kruger Rock Fire near Estes Park. Using fixed-wing aircraft to make retardant drops at night is extremely rare. This mission was the first time in Colorado that a fixed-wing used night vision equipment for firefighting in Colorado.

The crash occurred at approximately 6:37 PM MST. Due to the conditions, it took firefighters about 3 hours to find the downed aircraft. The aircraft and pilot were found near Hermit Park, which was placed under mandatory evacuation orders earlier in the day due to “immediate and imminent danger.” Unfortunately, the pilot, Marc Thor Olson, perished in the accident.  

CO Fire Aviation employed Marc Thor Olson. Olson served in the Army and Air Force for 32 years, and he had 42 years of flying experience. He logged more than 8,000 flight hours, including 1,000 hours using night-vision goggles during air missions.

Always Remember

The Kruger Rock plane crash is the third aviation fatality related to firefighting near Estes Park.

During the 2002 Big Elk fire, two air tanker pilots, Rick Schwartz and Milt Stollack died when their plane crashed while in the process of performing a fire retardant drop. Days later a helicopter pilot Gordon Knight died dropping water on hot spots along the fire boundary. 

Marc Thor Olson will also be memorialized on the WLF Always Remember  website.

Always Remember provides a permanent website to collect, organize, maintain, preserve, and share current and historical incidents in which wildland firefighters paid the ultimate price and lost their lives.

Our objective is to remember our fallen firefighters, their service to our country, and honor their family’s loss. By documenting factual information from each incident, we can pass along the lessons learned from their lives and the events that led up to the incident that caused their tragic loss. Although they may be gone, they are not forgotten. We hope this website preserves their memory and helps save lives in the future..  

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