Funeral services set for firefighter killed in helicopter crash

Funeral services will be held Tuesday in Henderson for a 29-year-old firefighter who was killed when a firefighter helicopter crashed near Elko.

Phillip Conner was a seasonal firefighter with the National Park Service at the Lake Mead Recreation Area. He died when the contract helicopter he was on crashed shortly after take-off Thursday night.

Park Service spokeswoman Kay Rohde said funeral services are scheduled for noon Tuesday at the Central Christian Church in Henderson. Internment will follow at the Veteran's cemetery in Boulder City.

Conner spent three years in the Navy and was a Gulf War veteran, Rohde said.

He divided his time between Prescott, Ariz., and southern Nevada, but graduated from high school in Las Vegas, she said.

''He pretty much grew up here,'' Rohde said.

The Bell 206 ''Jet Ranger'' helicopter was operated by Rogers Helicopters in Clovis, Calif., and was under contract with the Interior Department for firefighting duties.

The chopper and a three-man crew had been carrying water and supplies at the 3,600-acre Charlie fire in Elko County and was returning to Wells for the night when the accident occurred.

Three others were injured, including a Matt Cannon, a BLM firefighter from Alaska. Cannon was listed in fair condition Saturday at Magic Valley Regional Medical Center in Twin Falls, Idaho.

The pilot and a fuel truck driver on the ground who assisted after the crash were treated for minor injuries. They were employees of the helicopter company.

The Interior Department's Office of Aviation Safety and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the cause.

Meanwhile, cooler temperatures, a smattering of moisture and a reprieve from afternoon thunderstorms have given firefighters an edge on wildfires burning around the state.

The 2,900-acre Arrowcreek Fire that broke out Tuesday in southwest Reno during a thunderstorm was fully contained on Saturday. Six homes were damaged.

Three fires in Elko County were tamed. The Adobe and Sheep Pen fires were controlled Friday night. Combined, they burned nearly 11,000 acres.

The Vega fire, at 1,500 acres, was surrounded by fire line to keep it from spreading.

A 15,000-acre blaze near Midas was also contained, along with the 3,000-acre Crusoe fire near Ely.

''We're starting to get the upper hand,'' said Dave Murphy of the Bureau of Land Management in Winnemucca.

''With the large amount of fires in the West, It's very difficult to get resources from out of state to come and help out.

''I'm amazed how well these guys have been doing this week with one fire after another,'' he said.

But while progress was made on some fires, others continued to burn.

The O'Neil Complex in northern Elko County consists of three fires and was only about 10 percent contained. So far, those fires combined have burned about 20,000 acres.

Farther east in Elko County, the Charlie fire has burned 3,600 acres and was 65 percent contained.

Elsewhere, the Twin Peak fire east of Fallon was estimated at 4,500 acres and 20 percent containment.

Firefighters hoped to surround the Golden Fire Complex near the Nevada-California line by late Sunday.

That fire has burned 2,000 acres near the tiny town of Coleville, Calif., just south of Topaz Lake.


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