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Unmanned aircraft crashes into mountains, causes brush fire behind Wheeler Army Airfield

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    Helicopters are used to battle a forest fire caused by an unmanned Army aircraft that crashed in the Waianae Mountains in back of Wheeler Army Airfield this afternoon.

  • U.S. ARMY / 2016

    Spc. Jacob Veil, unmanned aircraft systems repairer, Company D, 29th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, pushes an RQ-7B Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle outside a hangar at Wheeler Army Airfield in this 2016 Army photo. The Army confirmed a Shadow crashed this afternoon behind Wheeler Army Airfield.


    The Honolulu Fire Department is responding to a brush fire in the mountains behind Wheeler Army Airfield that resulted from the aircraft going down.

An Army RQ-7 Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle out of Wheeler Army Airfield crashed into the mountains behind the base this afternoon, causing a brush fire, the 25th Infantry Division said.

The Honolulu Fire Department said the fire was 90 percent contained at 7:24 p.m., scorching a quarter of an acre, and the fire was turned over to the Department of Forestry and Wildlife at 7:25 p.m..

The crash was reported about 3:30 p.m. in an area isolated and not easily accessible to ground crews, an Army spokeswoman said.

Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Burden, a division spokesman, said the Army had no reports of injuries.

“We can confirm there was an unmanned aerial system, or drone, operated by the 25th infantry Division, that was lost during a routine training flight at approximately 3:30 p.m.,” Burden said in a statement. “Efforts are currently under way to survey the crash site to determine what, if any, additional impact to the area took place as a result. At this time, the cause of the loss is unknown. It will be determined later following an official investigation.”

Two Army UH-60 Black Hawks were dispatched to check out the crash site.

HFD responded to the brush fire that flared up after the aircraft went down. HFD sent five units including Air2, its helicopter.

HFD also requested more air assets.

The fire department said that the fire resulted from a crash, blackening a quarter of an acre.

The Honolulu Police Department’s helicopter also assisted the fire department with its helicopter to make water drops, HFD Capt. Scot Seguirant said. He described the location as the mountains above Kunia.

The Department of Forestry and Wildlife also assisted with a helicopter. The Army also assisted by using its two Black Hawk helicopters to make water drops.

The RQ-7B Shadow, which has a wingspan of 20 feet and weighs more than 440 pounds, provides Army units with near-real-time reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting, and “teaming ability” with AH-64D/E Apache attack helicopters, according to the Army. The aircraft, which operate out of Wheeler, can fly for eight-plus hours.

No Apaches were flying with the Shadow at the time of the crash. The Hawaii Army National Guard also operates Shadows, which have flown out of Wheeler.

No structures were threatened by the fire and no one was injured by the fire.

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