Firefighting helicopter crashes in B.C, 2 pilots hospitalized

A 214-B, from Tranwest's web site

A firefighting helicopter with a two-person crew went down on Thursday while working on a fire in British Columbia, about 340 kilometers (211 miles) northeast of Vancouver. Here is a report from CTV:

A helicopter bucketing water to a wildfire blazing in B.C.’s southern Interior crashed Thursday afternoon, sending its occupants to hospital.

Two people were on board when the Bell 214-B, carrying a full load of water, hit the side of a large hill while fighting the Jade Wildfire burning northwest of Lillooet, about two hours west of Kamloops.

The pilot was taken to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops with pain in his legs, while the co-pilot is being held for observation in Lillooet.

The helicopter was on contract to the B.C. Fire Service by TransWest Helicopters, based in Chilliwack.

It is still not known what caused the crash.

We are glad the pilots are not too seriously hurt, and hope they get well soon. It could have been a lot worse.

UPDATE @ 11:00 p.m. MT, July 29:

News1130 reports:

Transwest Helicopters confirms one of its choppers has crashed while fighting a wildfire near Lillooet Thursday afternoon.

The helicopter went down as the crew was bucketing the fire from above near the active edge of the blaze. Another chopper was in the area and was able to call for help immediately.

The pilot, a 61-year-old man from Vernon, and his 27-year old co-pilot from Abbotsford, survived the accident and have been taken to hospital with minor injuries. The pilot suffered a concussion and a leg injury, while the co-pilot ended up with bumps and bruises.

The cause of the accident is not known. Transwest is expecting to be able to remove the wreckage by Friday.

The pilots walked away from the crash.

“Extraction crews worked very quickly in getting to the two men and moving them out of further harm’s way, given the danger that the crash location posed,” said RCMP Cpl Dan Moskaluk in a press release. “It was essentially at the fire’s edge in a very highly active fire area.

From the Toronto Sun:

VANCOUVER – Two pilots involved in a wildfire helicopter crash Thursday are expected to recover, according to Transwest Helicopters.

The Bell 214B helicopter lost power while carrying a bucket of fire retardant up a hill towards an active forest fire in the Porcupine Creek area of Lillooet, B.C.

The 61-year-old pilot was forced to make an emergency crash landing on a logging road.

“The helicopter was damaged pretty extensively,” said Alison Maas, co-owner of the Chilliwack-based helicopter company. “I can’t say what happened, only what appears to have happened. [The cause of the loss of power] will be up to the Transportation Safety Board people.”

From Aviation.ca:

“They dropped the water bucket and flew downhill trying to make a clearing but had a hard landing and the aircraft bowled over, ” said the owner of Transwest Helicopters. “Our pilot has been working for us for over 10 years,” he said. “He’s also a personal friend of mine and our concern was strictly for the crew. The helicopter can always be repaired.”

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+