Jul 4, 2011 7:15 PM by Zach Thaxton
A passenger injured in a plane crash that killed the pilot and may have sparked a more-than 100-acre wildfire near Wetmore is a doctor who owns several EmergiCare clinics in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
Robert Hamilton suffered non-life-threatening injuries when the small plane he was in crashed near his ranch in Custer County near Wetmore. He was flown to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs and was released Monday morning, according to Custer County Sheriff Fred Jobe. The plane was piloted by Sidney Emmert, 50, of Oklahoma City. Jobe says Emmert was giving Hamilton a bird's-eye view of his ranch in a vintage biplane when the crash happened. The NTSB will determine what caused the plane to crash.
The Mason Fire sparked around the same time as the crash, and in the same area, but Rita Baysinger, public information officer for the fire, could not confirm whether the crash and subsequent explosion of the plane caused the fire. By Monday afternoon, around 75 fire personnel, with support from slurry bombers and helicopters, were able to make progress in getting a line around the fire, according to Baysinger. Technically, the fire was classified as zero percent contained as of Monday afternoon, but only a few thin plumes of smoke were showing in the fire zone.
"People tend to equate containment with the fire being all over," Baysinger said. "As far as the firefighters are concerned, they don't want to put a containment number on it until they're really, really sure they have it nailed down."
Sheriff Jobe says Dr. Hamilton tried to help Emmert after the crash. "Dr. Hamilton tried to get him out, but couldn't and then the plane erupted into flames and Dr. Hamilton had to leave," Jobe said.