Montana lowers flags to half-staff to honor a US pilot who died fighting Australia's wildfires

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Picture of honored firefighter

MONTANA — Flags are flying at half-staff Saturday across Montana to honor a pilot who died in a plane crash while fighting Australia’s wildfires.

Montana Air National Guard Lt. Col. Ian McBeth was flying a C-130 water-bombing plane this week in New South Wales, where fires are burning out of control.

Also killed were crew members Paul Clyde Hudson, 42, of Buckeye, Arizona, and Rick DeMorgan Jr., 43, of Navarre, Florida, said their employer, Coulson Aviation.

“Ian was a devoted father and husband, a brave first responder, and a selfless service member who made the ultimate sacrifice helping the people of Australia combat the catastrophic wildfires devastating their country,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said in issuing the order to lower the flags.

“Our service members and their families already sacrifice so much, and Ian took his call of duty even further to help those in need across the world.”

The cause of the crash was not immediately known.

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