09-11-2008, 07:31 PM #1
Crashed plane sinking, fule is dumping into Lake Tahoe
Update: Crashed plane sinking, fuel is dumping into Lake Tahoe
Local public safety officials currently are rushing to save an unidentified plane from sinking into Lake Tahoe after it crash landed about 11 a.m. Thursday, a mile south if Burnt Cedar Beach in Incline Village.
North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District's Marine 16 boat had begun towing the crashed plane at about 11:30 a.m., from its crash spot, to Ski Beach in Incline. However, the plane began to take on water in tow, cutting off the towing effort about a half-mile south of Burnt Cedar
Currently, Washoe County Sheriff's Office Deputy Ben Coffindafffer is on a jet ski, transporting buoys to the plane in an attempt to keep it afloat. WCSO and NLTFPD officials also have confirmed there is fuel leaking from the plane into Lake Tahoe.
Both of the plane's passengers were unhurt in the crash, and they are safe on one of the rescue boats near the plane, officials said.
WCSO officials say they were notified by the Nevada Civil Air Patrol at exactly 11 a.m. that a plane was going to crash in the lake. The plane crashed and was found upside down in the water, shortly after 11 a.m. when authorities arrived.
WCSO and Marine 9 jet skis took off from Burnt Cedar Beach, where authorities are staging, to aid the crash victims.
Stay tuned to the Bonanza for more...
09-12-2008, 11:05 AM #2
Sea plane sinks on Tahoe
Fuel leaks into lake from aircraft
By Kyle Magin
The seaplane is towed toward shore near Incline Village.
A pair of Carson City men are unhurt after their seaplane malfunctioned, flipped over and eventually sank Thursday morning into Lake Tahoe’s waters just south of Burnt Cedar Beach.
The men — pilot Frank Hublou and co-pilot John Schottenheimer — were attempting to take off from the water. The plane eventually sank 30 feet, after taking on too much water for officials to safely beach the vessel. The aircraft, a Republic Seabee, leaked about 30 to 40 gallons of fuel into Lake Tahoe.
As of press time Thursday, Hublou and others were towing the aircraft from the lake, about a half-mile east of Burnt Cedar.
The seaplane took off at about 11 a.m. Thursday in the lake, about one mile south of Burnt Cedar Beach, and it immediately began taking on water, said Boatsman’s Mate 2nd Class Adam Season. of the Coast Guard Station Lake Tahoe in Lake Forest, Calif. Hublou and Schottenheimer told Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Ben Coffindaffer, who was the first rescuer on the scene by Jet Ski, that once the plane started to take off, its right pontoon began to take on water, spinning the plane multiple times.
Battalion Chief Scott Sutter, of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, was notified at 11:04 a.m. by Nevada Civil Air Patrol that the plane was in distress, about four minutes after takeoff.
Within a minute of takeoff, the plane flipped over onto its top, Coffindaffer said.
Coffindaffer said private citizens on a boat out of Crystal Bay were able to pull Hublou and Schottenheimer out of the water after they extracted themselves, uninjured, from the plane. Hublou owns the plane.
“They were both fine and out of the water by the time I got there,” Coffindaffer said. “They said they took off, did a few pirouettes and then the plane listed to the right and flipped over.”
Both Hublou and Schottenheimer were pulled from the water after about 10 minutes, Coffindaffer said. He said the water temperature hovered around 64 degrees. Hublou and Schottenheimer used seat cushions to stay afloat while the private citizens raced to their aid, Coffindaffer said.
Neither Hublou nor Schottenheimer was available for comment before press time Friday.
Once the pair was safely aboard, Capt. Steve Alcorn of NLTFPD, said he gave them a brief exam for medical issues to find they had none.
Recovering the plane
With the aircraft’s passengers safe, officials focused on recovering the plane.
Firefighters on the NLTFPD’s Marine 16, officers from the U.S. Coast Guard station in Tahoe City and WCSO deputies aboard Jet Skis attached buoys to the plane and Marine 16 began to pull the plane toward Ski Beach in Incline.
Alcorn, who was aboard Marine 16, said the plane started taking on more water once it was about half-mile off Burnt Cedar Beach. Coffindaffer raced back to shore to collect extra buoys in an attempt to float the plane enough for it to return to shore.
Meanwhile, a second problem was brewing. Leslie Barnes, Sheriff’s support specialist, said she received a report about 11:45 a.m. from rescuers that there was fuel and possibly oil in the water, leaking from the aircraft.
Alcorn said the fuel had spilled in a wide swath around the plane, which carries a 40-gallon tank.
Mike Pennacchio, risk management officer for the Incline Village General Improvement District, acknowledged that as a problem because IVGID’s water intake valves are positioned off Burnt Cedar Beach, around quarter-mile away from the sinking plane. For safety, the valves began shutting down at 11:45 a.m. and were completely shut down by 12:05 p.m., Pennacchio said.
Had the water been contaminated, Pennacchio said the valves would remain shut down and IVGID residents would have been notified to restrict their water use.
IVGID’s Public Works Director Joe Pomroy confirmed at about 1:30 p.m. Friday that the water was not contaminated., although the pumps remained closed into Thursday afternoon as a precaution.
Jay Schmidt, a volunteer rescuer who serves aboard the WCSO’s Marine 9, which was not on the water Thursday because of a mechanical problem, said absorbent booms were placed around the spill site. Absorbent booms are floatable devices used to soak up some of the fuel to take it away from the lake water, Schmidt said.
Shortly after the booms were placed, Alcorn said Marine 16 had to cut its tow-line to the plane loose about half-mile east of Burnt Cedar Beach. This was shortly before 1 p.m. as Marine 16 was towing the board toward the boat launch at Ski Beach.
“It was just taking on too much water and was starting to pull us under,”
Alcorn said. “The buoys just couldn’t hold it any more. So we cut it loose in about 20 to 30 feet of water and left the buoys to mark it.”
A recovery effort began again about 2:45 p.m., said fire department Assistant Fire Chief Greg McKay, as a diver placed airbags in the plane to float it while multiple recovery vessels pulled it to shore. The boats belonged to Vessel Assist Lake Tahoe, a private recovery company based in Incline Village.
Fuel not expected to have long-term effects on Tahoe
Fuel leaked from a seaplane that submerged Thursday into Lake Tahoe should not have any long-term effects on Lake Tahoe’s water clarity or quality, according to lake officials and scientists.
“It’ll evaporate from the surface and the water will get diluted out fairly quickly,” said Glen Miller, a University of Nevada, Reno natural resource and environmental science professor who has done extensive research into the effects of fuel on Lake Tahoe’s waters. “This is unlikely to present a long-term problem and would not be considered an major addition to the existing issues.”
The seaplane, which carried about 30 to 40 gallons of fuel, was being pulled from the bottom of Lake Tahoe, about a half mile east of Burnt Cedar Beach, as of press time Thursday.
Rescue officials reported a fuel leak about 11:45 a.m., according to Leslie Barnes, a Washoe County Sheriff’s support specialist. Absorbent booms were placed around the spill site, said Jay Schmidt, a volunteer rescuer who serves aboard the Sheriff’s Marine 9. Absorbent booms are floatable devices used to soak up some of the fuel to take it away from the lake water, Schmidt said.
The absorbent booms may have contain much of the fuel leak, said Dennis Zabaglo, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency watercraft program manager.
“The first responders were able to soak up quite a bit of it so the remainder that’s there will be a smaller amount” Zabaglo said. “Gasoline tends to evaporate quickly.”
The Incline Village General Improvement District water intake valves, positioned off of Burnt Cedar Beach about a quarter-mile away from the sinking plane, began shutting down at 11:45 a.m. and were completely shut down by 12:05 p.m., said Mike Pennacchio, IVGID Risk Management officer. After some water tests later in the day, IVGID Director of Public Works Joe Pomroy confirmed the water was not contaminated. The pumps remained closed into Thursday afternoon as a precaution.
— Annie Flanzraich, Sun News Service
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