Wildfire at Colorado Plane Crash Site at 154 Acres

July 5, 2011

Crews on Monday dug fire lines around a 154-acre wildfire in southern Colorado that broke out around the same time a vintage biplane crashed nearby, killing the pilot and injuring his passenger.

Fire officials said they were investigating whether the crash Sunday triggered the fire.

Pilot Sidney Emmert, 50, of Oklahoma, was killed, Custer County Coroner Art Nordyke said. Nordyke said he didn’t know Emmert’s hometown.

The passenger, Robert Hamilton of Wetmore, was treated at a Colorado Springs hospital and released, Sheriff Fred Jobe said. The nature of his injuries wasn’t known, but Jobe said they weren’t serious.

Jobe said Hamilton is a physician. His age wasn’t available.

The plane crashed in a wooded ravine near Wetmore, an unincorporated town about 100 miles south of Denver.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators were investigating.

Federal aviation records indicate the plane was a Boeing B75N1, a single-engine acrobatic aircraft built in 1941. No phone listing could be found for the registered owner, Quetzal Limited Partnership of Oklahoma City.

Photos of other B75N1 aircraft on aviation websites indicate the plane had two open-cockpit seats, one behind the other. Jobe said the plane’s canvas skin was destroyed by fire and all that remained was the frame.

The wildfire was burning in pine, oak and grass. Forest Service spokesman Gregg Goodland said the fire was 25 percent contained Monday afternoon. “We’re feeling pretty good about it right now,” he said.

The sheriff’s department said no houses have been evacuated but residents of one neighborhood in Wetmore were on standby.

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