One killed as wild weather hits Colorado

June 30, 2011 at 2:31 PM
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DENVER, June 30 (UPI) -- Wild weather hit Colorado as lightning struck two airmen, sparked several fires, grounded aircraft and may have caused a small plane to crash, authorities said.

A single-engine Cessna 182 crashed and exploded in a field in Adams County, killing the pilot, The Denver Post reported Thursday.

The plane crashed Wednesday afternoon shortly before takeoffs at Denver International Airport were suspended because of thunderstorms and difficult wind conditions.

The plane appeared to be attempting to land when "all of a sudden, this great big gust of wind hit. His wing just completely flipped up and he nose-dived into the ground, and the plane exploded," Catherine Von Axelson, a witness, told the Post.

At about the same time, two Colorado Air National Guard airmen were hit by lightning at Buckley Air Force Base in east Aurora. They were taken to the base hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

A line of thunderstorms produced lightning that set off several small fires in northern Boulder and southern Larimer counties, the Post said.

Fire risk was listed as critical for much of Colorado because of wind gusts up to 45 mph, temperatures in the 90s and low humidity, the National Weather Service said.

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