Officials reported late Sunday night that three persons had died after two helicopters crashed while battling a fire in Cabazon, Southern California.
The first helicopter was able to land safely nearby. Unfortunately, the second helicopter crashed and tragically all three members perished,” CalFire Southern Region Chief David Fulcher said in a news conference.
World NBC tweeted about the Firefighting Helicopter Accident:
Firefighting helicopters collide over Southern California desert, killing 3 in crash
The accident late Sunday afternoon in the desert about 85 miles (137 kilometers) east of Los Angeles involved a huge Sikorsky S-64E and a smaller Bell 407. The larger Sikorsky landed safely. pic.twitter.com/4QhVRBRsZo
— World NBC (@WorldNBC1) August 7, 2023
According to Fulcher, the victims included a hired pilot, a division commander for CalFire, and a captain for CalFire. The Broadway Fire, which started on Sunday after a structure fire spread to neighboring vegetation, was being fought by six aircraft, including helicopters.
According to a tweet from a joint CalFire and Riverside County Fire Department Twitter account, the Broadway Fire was around three acres in size when firefighters arrived at the scene about six o’clock. The “forward rate of spread” was stopped just after 7 o’clock, according to the agencies.
Alameda County Fire Department would like to send our deepest condolences to #CALFIRE for the tragic loss of three members of their department who perished in a midair collision fighting a fire in Riverside County.#ALCOFIRE #ALCOfirefighters #LODD pic.twitter.com/ln0kN3r4mS
— Alameda County Fire (@AlamedaCoFire) August 7, 2023
The helicopter crash started a second, four-acre fire, which has since been put out, according to Fulcher.
A second four-acre fire was ignited by the helicopter crash but has since been extinguished, Fulcher said.
“I would like to express our deepest sympathies and sorrow to the families and coworkers of the personnel,” Fulcher said. “This was a tragic loss for the community, the fire service community and CalFire and Riverside County Fire Department.”
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The National Transportation Safety Board will look into the collision, according to Fulcher.
About 90 miles east of Los Angeles, in Riverside County, is the town of Cabazon.