Jeff Piechura .jpg

A former Northwest Fire District chief was killed Sunday in a plane crash in Mohave County.

Jeff Piechura, 62, died in the crash. Matthew Miller, 48, was also killed.

It's unclear why the plane crashed, officials said.  

Piechura and Miller were doing "aerial reconnaissance" on the Cedar Basin Fire near Wikieup in a Beechcraft King Air C90 crashed at about noon, according to a statement from the Bureau of Land Management.

The Department of Interior Office of Aviation Services, in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, is investigating the crash, according to BLM.

Piechura worked for the Coronado National Forest as an air tactical group supervisor, while Miller worked for Falcon Executive Aviation Inc. through the U.S. Forest Service as a fire pilot.

Piechura led Northwest Fire District for 24 years after becoming its first fire chief in November 1988. During that time, he helped expand the district to serve its growing community, a statement from Northwest Fire District said.

After retiring in 2012, Piechura worked for a fire department in Stockton, Calif.

"Piechura's passing leaves a tremendous void in the lives of his beloved family, friends and the thousands of firefighters across the country he worked with," the Northwest Fire Department statement said. "His professional accomplishments are far too many to be captured in a single document and his personal impact on those who knew him is too immense to comprehend."

He is survived by his wife, Donna, and five children.

Gov. Doug Ducey ordered flags to fly at half-mast on Tuesday to honor Piechura and Miller.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jeff Piechura and Matthew Miller, who were carrying out their mission on the Cedar Basin Fire in service of the people of Arizona,” said Ducey. “My deepest condolences go to the Piechura and Miller families, their loved ones and colleagues. The memory of these brave, selfless firefighters will live on. Our prayers are with them and all of Arizona’s wildland firefighters serving in the face of danger to keep their fellow Arizonans safe.”

The Cedar Basin Fire is about 14 miles northeast of Wikieup in Mohave County and was first reported to officials on July 9 after thunderstorms hit the area, according to InciWeb, a wildfire tracking website operated by the U.S. Forest Service.

The crash site is located a half-mile south of the fire area and is not threatened by the Cedar Basin Fire.

The fire had grown to more than 700 acres with no containment as of Sunday. 

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