At 3 pm Sunday afternoon, a cargo aircraft crashed into the south-facing slope of Mount Healy inside Denali National Park. The crash occurred within a mile of Park headquarters and just 200 yards north of the Denali Park Road.
The aircraft was immediately engulfed in flames and started a wildland fire. Rescuers were on the scene within minutes of the crash, but the fire prevented them from being able to rescue the three people on board. National Park service medics, Tri Valley and McKinley Village volunteer fire departments and other rescuers responded. The Tanana Zone of the Alaska Fire Service dropped eight smokejumpers onto the scene. The wildland fire has been contained to one acre. Fire crews stayed throughout the night to extinguish hot spots.
The plane was a Fairchild C-123 registered to Allwest Freight in Delta Junction. There were three people reported to be on board and it appears as if there were no survivors.
The Park road is open, however, the trails closest to the crash site have been temporarily closed. There is a flight restriction over the area until further notice. Pilots using the park airstrip or flying through Windy Pass are cautioned to be alert for official aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA investigators are expected to be on the scene today.
Kris Fister, park spokesperson, said the investigation is now in the hands of the NTSB. It will be up to them to find out why a plane was traveling into the Park and why it was flying so low. The answers to those questions are not known at this time.