The crash scene northeast of the town of Cooma in southern New South Wales stretches a kilometre long. The only recognizable part of the plane is the burned tail section.
The remains of three American crew members who died in the crash have been removed and Coulson Aviation CEO Wayne Coulson visited the crash site on the weekend.
“To see our aircraft on the ground knowing we’ve had such loss of life was devastating,” he said.
The investigation into the cause of the crash continues and while was no flight data recorder on the plane, the was a cockpit voice recorder.
“What we did find in that initial sweep this morning was the aircraft’s voice-recorder near the tail section of the aircraft,” said Greg Hood of the Australian Transportation Safety Bureau.
It’s hoped the final words or sounds recorded in the cockpit will provide details as to what happened.
“We are a safety-first company and average over 6000 firefighting missions per year around the world,” Wayne Coulson said. “For that reason, it is vital that we understand the circumstances around this crash.”
Coulson had initially grounded all air tankers working on the fires in Australia so other crews could mourn the loss of those who died but they are now back in the air.
“They want to do the job they’re here for supporting these beautiful communities in Australia,” Coulson said.
The victims were from Arizona, Florida and Montana and the plane, a retrofitted C-130 Hercules was based in Oregon.
Coulson says the company is supporting the families in any way it can and that there will be a private service for the victims on Thursday in Australia.
A Gofundme page has also been set up to help the families.