CANBERRA, ACT — The bodies of three U.S. flying firefighters and the cockpit voice recorder from the water bomber in which they died battling Australia’s unprecedented wildfire crisis have been retrieved. 

The firefighters, Ian McBeth of Great Falls, Montana, Paul Clyde Hudson of Buckeye, Arizona, and Rick A. DeMorgan of Navarre, Florida, died when their C-130 Hercules tanker crashed on Thursday. The plane was dumping fire retardant on an out-of-control blaze northeast of the town of Cooma in southern New South Wales state. 

A police statement says their bodies were retrieved from a still-active fire zone. They were taken to Sydney. 

Their relatives who began arriving Saturday will be offered an opportunity to visit the hillside crash site.

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Men killed in Australia wildfire plane crash
From left to right: Rick A. DeMorgan Jr., Paul Clyde Hudson, and Ian H. McBeth