9 missing, feared dead in fire copter crash
August 6, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO ” Nine people are missing and feared dead in a helicopter crash in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said Wednesday.
The crash happened Tuesday night as the helicopter was transporting firefighters battling a wildfire north of Junction City.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the helicopter was carrying 11 firefighters and two crew members when it went down. Four people have been taken to the hospital with severe burns, including two in critical condition, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Gregor said the Sikorsky S-61 chopper was destroyed by fire after crashing “under unknown circumstances” in a remote mountain location. FAA and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were headed to the scene, about 215 miles northwest of Sacramento.
The nine were presumably killed in the fire that destroyed the helicopter, Gregor said.
Two of the injured airlifted to critical condition at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, Forest Service spokesman Mike Odle said Wednesday. The other two were taken to Mercy Medical Center in Redding in serious condition, he said.
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The firefighters had been working at the north end of a more than 27-square-mile fire burning in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, part of a larger complex of blazes that total 135 square miles. The complex of fires in the Shasta-Trinity forest was about 87 percent contained.
Another firefighter assigned to battle the same series of wildfires died late last month when he was hit by a falling tree.