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Air tanker crashes while battling Utah blaze

Forest fires continue to rage in the Southwest, where two pilots were killed over the weekend when the air tanker they were flying crashed near the Utah-Nevada border. An hour later, another air tanker was forced to make a belly landing outside Reno, Nev., when landing gear malfunctioned. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.

Updated at 8:10 a.m. ET: An air tanker fighting the White Rock wildfire in southern Utah crashed Sunday afternoon, killing two crew members.

A fire official told NBC News that the crash occurred shortly before 1 p.m. local time in a remote area on the Utah side of the border with Nevada. Iron County Sheriff's deputies reached the scene and confirmed the crew members had died, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported. An investigation team was en route to the location, Chris Hanefeld, PIO for the White Rock fire, told NBC News.

The plane was a P-2V tanker operated by Neptune Aviation Services in Missoula, Mont., a statement from the Bureau of Land Management said.

Earlier, a fire bomber made a successful emergency landing at Minden-Tahoe Airport in Nevada, Reno television station MyNews4.com reported.

In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said the "thoughts and prayers of all Nevadans are with the firefighters, the plane crews and their families."

In New Mexico, firefighters battling the state's largest-ever blaze gained ground and officials said they would begin to allow evacuated residents to return home on Monday, Reuters reported.

The Whitewater-Baldy wildfire, which began as two small blazes, is now out control and has blown into the largest wildfire in state history. NBC's Miguel Almaguer reports.

The Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire, which has burned 241,701 acres in the Gila National Forest, is now 17 percent contained with progress being made by the hour, Fire Information Officer Heather O'Hanlon told Reuters.