Firefighting helicopter crash in Slave Lake, one fatality


Slave Lake helicopter crash

A firefighting helicopter has crashed in Lesser Slave Lake. Photo Credit: Supplied, Global News

A helicopter fighting a wildfire crashed into Lesser Slave Lake about 24 kilometeres northwest of the town of Slave Lake, Alberta, killing the pilot who was the only person on board. The Bell 212 helicopter, using a water bucket, was dipping out of the lake and ended up in about four feet of water 30 meters offshore just after 3 p.m. MT on Friday, May 21.

Here is an excerpt from CTV:

…[The] RCMP said fire officials immediately extricated the one male pilot from the helicopter. The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene. He was the only one on board.

“We got a call to take my boat, which was fortunately parked right on the shore of the lake and get over to help recover it,” said eyewitness Troy Foster.

Another eyewitness reports he saw the chopper go down.

“I was just walking to the neighbour’s property and they’d been bucketing all day and a chopper came over and he went to go into a hover and he tipped right sideways,” said Lorne Lukan. “In seconds he went over, went into a hover and tipped right sideways and went straight down.”

Police say rescue attempts resulted in a number of emergency workers receiving hypothermia.

“They were treated for mild hypothermia,” said incident commander Len Maccharles. “There were 12 firefighters in the water,” he added.

“My heart goes out to the family of this helicopter pilot,” said Premier Ed Stelmach. “Today’s tragic news drives home the reality that the brave men and women fighting the fires in Alberta put their lives on the line every day to keep Albertans and our communities safe.”

The Transportation Safety Board says the chopper was owned by Campbell Helicopters based out of Abbotsford, B.C.

The chopper was assisting with fire control in the area. The province says the helicopter and pilot were under contract to Sustainable Resource Development.

Our sincere condolences to the family and coworkers.

Update: the pilot has been identified.

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About Bill Gabbert

Wildland fire has been a major part of Bill Gabbert’s life for several decades. After growing up in the south, he migrated to southern California where he lived for 20 years, working as a wildland firefighter. Later he took his affinity for firefighting to Indiana and eventually the Black Hills of South Dakota where he was the Fire Management Officer for a group of seven national parks. Today he is the creator and owner of and Sagacity Wildfire Services and serves as an expert witness in wildland fire. If you are interested in wildland fire, welcome… grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up. Google+

One thought on “Firefighting helicopter crash in Slave Lake, one fatality

  1. Bill,

    Very sad news. I heard about the crash from a friend, and saw your article when I went online this morning.


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