UPDATE OCT. 5, 2013: A possibly-damaged aerial firefighting tanker was towed off the runway at the Hemet Ryan Air Attack Base today, and the runway at the Hemet Ryan Airport reopened at 8 a.m.
The plane made a hard landing, and dumped an unknown amount of liquid fire retardant on the runway, at 5:40 p.m. Friday.
The Grumman S-2T air tanker was to be inspected by Cal Fire and the National Transportation Safety Board today, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson said.
It is one of 23 such planes owned by the state, and one of two stationed at Hemet. The other plane was flown to Ramona for the night.
The first tanker had been dispatched to a 16-acre grass fire Friday in Good Hope, east of Lake Elsinore, when its mission was cancelled. The pilot was the only on board and he was not hurt.
It was uncertain whether the aircraft's landing gear deployed properly, and the incident was under investigation, Hutchinson said. An unknown amount of fire retardant was spotted under the plane. --City News Service
ORIGINAL POST OCT. 4 2013: A brush fire that burned east of Lake Elsinore Friday was contained to 16 acres by Cal Fire/Riverside County crews, but there are reports that an air tanker used to battle the blaze had to make a hard landing at Hemet-Ryan Airport.
According to a Patch reporter on scene at the airport who spoke with Cal Fire Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson, the air tanker made the landing after returning from the Rosa fire that broke out at 4:47 p.m. in the vicinity of Christmas Tree Lane and Santa Rosa Mine Road in the unincorporated community of Good Hope.
The tanker had already made a drop on the blaze, when the pilot refilled and began flying back for a second drop, according to Hutchinson. However, that second drop was canceled and the pilot reversed course, she explained.
Hutchinson did not speculate as to why the pilot made the hard landing. An email sent by Patch to Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor received an auto-reply with the following message:
"I am not in the office due to a lapse in federal funding."
Alternate contacts at the FAA did not immediately respond to requests for information.
There are no reports of injury due to the hard landing, but the tanker spilled its fire retardant and cleanup was ongoing Friday night.
At press time, a Patch reporter on scene said the plane is still in the middle of the runway, sitting on its belly.