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“The bottom line is, we will continue to do our best to fulfill our responsibility to protect the public, communities and cultural and natural resources during wildfires with the assets that we have available,” she said.

Firefighters in the field also will adjust their strategy and tactics based on the availability of air tankers.

The plane that crashed was fighting a fire about 80 miles southwest of Rapid City, S.D. The terrain of the crash site is “very, very rugged, straight up and straight down cliffs,” said Frank Maynard, the Fall River County emergency management director.

Military officials declined to say whether anyone was killed, but they confirmed there were some crew members who were being treated for serious injuries at a hospital in Rapid City.

The family of Lt. Col. Paul Mikeal of Mooresville, N.C., said they were told early Monday that he had died in the crash. They said he was a 42-year-old married father of two and a veteran of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

AP writers Paul Foy, Keith Ridler, Michael Biesecker and Blake Nicholson contributed to this report.