2 People Injured After B-1 Bomber Catches Fire During Maintenance

A B-1B Lancer takes off at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.
A B-1B Lancer takes off to participate in Red Flag 22-2 at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, March 3, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Reilly McGuire)

A B-1B Lancer bomber at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas caught fire late Wednesday night, sending two people to the hospital.

Around 10 p.m. local time, a bomber parked on the flight line erupted in flames during "routine maintenance," the base said in a press release.

Video footage allegedly of the incident was posted to the popular Air Force amn/nco/snco Facebook page early Thursday morning, showing a massive fireball coming from what appears to be a B-1 aircraft.

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Two people were hurt in the incident, Dyess said in a statement, and emergency personnel promptly responded to the scene. The injured were transported to Hendrick Medical Center South, about 10 miles from the base.

A base spokeswoman would not clarify whether the two injured are service members, referring to them only as "DoD personnel."

Col. Joseph Kramer, commander of the 7th Bomb Wing out of Dyess, said in a Facebook post that both individuals are on the mend.

"We are so grateful that all members of Team Dyess involved have been treated and are now safely back at home," Kramer said. "Thank you to our first responders who arrived immediately on scene and executed a real-world emergency response with the same level of professionalism and proficiency as they do in training."

Cleanup operations from the fire were underway Thursday afternoon, and base officials asked people to remain out of the affected area until maintenance crews were complete.

The incident on the flight line happened as the 317th Airlift Wing was conducting an exercise known as "Medium Grit" out of Dyess this week. The exercise called for airmen to "operate in a contested and degraded operationally limited environment," a release about the event said.

Nearby residents in Abilene were notified that they may see emergency vehicles and hear loud sirens and loudspeaker announcements during the training exercise. The event was scheduled to end Friday.

Wednesday's incident marks the latest in a history of aircraft crashes and fires linked to the base, including notable accidents that resulted in the death of airmen.

In 1958, a B-47 Stratojet bomber carrying a nuclear bomb caught fire during takeoff from Dyess and then crashed. Several crew members managed to eject, but one person was killed. The resulting detonation of high explosives created a crater 35 feet in diameter and six feet deep. Nuclear materials from the weapon were later recovered near the crash site.

In 1989, a KC-135 Stratotanker from Dyess crashed and exploded in a massive fireball, killing all 19 people on the aircraft. And in 1992, a B-1 bomber out of the base crashed, killing the four-man crew.

In 2015, four airmen assigned to the 317th Airlift Group out of Dyess died when their C-130 Hercules crashed shortly after taking off from Jalalabad Airfield in Afghanistan.

-- Thomas Novelly can be reached at thomas.novelly@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.

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