Interim report released about helicopter crash at Idaho’s Moose Fire

N388RZ Boeing CH-47D at Penticton Airport
N388RA Boeing CH-47D preparing to take off at Penticton Airport in British Columbia July 16, 2022. Image from VMC Aviation Videos.

The US Forest Service has released a brief initial report about the July 21 crash of the Boeing CH-47D helicopter in the Salmon River while working on the Moose Fire 20 air miles northwest of Salmon, Idaho. The two pilots were killed.

Below is the complete text of the narrative section of the document which was dated July 22, 2022, but was not posted on the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned site until today around noon.

On Thursday, July 20, a call when needed CH-47D Series Chinook Helicopter crashed into the Salmon River, adjacent to the Indianola Work Center approximately 11 miles west of North Fork, Idaho on the Moose Fire. The aircraft sustained severe damage, the pilots were extracted and transported to hospitals but both sustained fatal injuries. The NTSB has been notified and will be conducting an accident investigation. The USDA Forest Service has assigned a learning review team.

The pilots, the only personnel on board, were Thomas Hayes, 41, of Post Falls, Idaho, and Jared Bird, 36, of Anchorage, Alaska.

The helicopter was operated by Anchorage-based ROTAK Helicopter Services.

The FAA confirms that the registration number of the helicopter is N388RA, which is one of two CH-47D ships ROTAK recently purchased from Columbia Helicopters.

area where the CH-47D crashed July 21, 2022
The general area where the CH-47D crashed July 21, 2022. Google Earth. The red shading represents an area burned in the Moose Fire.

There are unconfirmed reports that a hotshot crew was nearby when it crashed and they went into the Salmon River and extricated the pilots in an attempt to save them.

The last time Flight Aware tracked N388FA was at 3:02 p.m. MDT July 21. Because of the rugged terrain, it first showed it north of the Salmon Airport. Then it went northwest generally toward the Moose Fire and lost tracking at 3:12 p.m., minutes before it reached the river.

As an example of the terrain here is a photo of the Comet Fire I took a few years ago from Highway 93 just east of the current Moose Fire, 13 air miles north of Salmon, ID. The Salmon River is in the foreground.

Comet Fire, July 28, 2016
Comet Fire, July 28, 2016. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The video below was shot at Penticton Airport in British Columbia July 16, 2022 when it stopped for fuel en route from Alaska to Idaho.

The GoFundMe fundraisers for the two pilots can be found through the following links:

Helicopter crashes into Salmon River while working on Moose Fire

Updated 3:56 p.m. MDT July 22, 2022

More information is available about the helicopter crash in Idaho.

Both pilots have died, the U.S. Forest Service said on Friday.

Mary Cernicek with the Salmon-Challis National Forest said Thomas Hayes, 41, of Post Falls, Idaho, and Jared Bird, 36, of Anchorage, Alaska, died from injuries they sustained when their CH-47D Series Chinook crashed in the Salmon River about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The pilots were employees of the Anchorage-based ROTAK Helicopter Services and were working on the Moose Fire northwest of Salmon, Idaho.

7:52 a.m. MDT July 22, 2022

CH-47D. ROTAK photo.

Thursday afternoon a CH-47D Chinook helicopter operated by ROTAK Helicopter Services crashed into the Salmon River while working on the Moose Fire northwest of Salmon, Idaho. The US Forest Service reported Friday morning there were two fatalities.

The company released a brief statement Thursday evening.

It is with heavy hearts that we confirm that on July 21, 2022, at approximately 3:30 p.m. a CH-47D series “Chinook” helicopter operated by ROTAK Helicopter Service with two pilots on board was involved in an accident near Salmon, Idaho. Emergency medical teams are responding to the scene. ROTAK is working closely with all appropriate agencies and will issue a full statement as information is confirmed.

We send out our sincere condolences to the families, friends, and co-workers of the two that were killed.

Growth of the fire
The Moose Fire grew incrementally on Friday, showing growth on all sides, primarily south of the Salmon River on the west and east sides. Very little growth occurred north of the river.

A mapping flight Thursday night determined it had burned 23,620 acres, an increase of nearly 3,000 acres. Much of that difference was due to an overnight change in procedure, a decision to not consider in the acreage the unburned islands in the interior. Previously the size of those islands had been subtracted from the total exterior perimeter.

Moose Fire map 10:38 p.m. July 21, 2022
Moose Fire map. The red line was the perimeter at 10:38 p.m. July 21, 2022. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours previously.

The forecast for Friday afternoon is for increasing winds, gusting out of the west and then northwest at 31 mph with the relative humidity in the mid-teens. After sunset the wind will drop to about 6 mph out of the north. Saturday should bring 5 to 8 mph winds out of the south shifting to the north, with 13 percent relative humidity.

Firefighters expect the weather on Friday could lead to spread south of the Salmon River west towards Spring Creek, east towards North Fork, and spotting to the north side of the river.

Resources assigned to the fire Thursday evening included 18 hand crews, 25 fire engines, and 7 helicopters for a total of 517 personnel, a 24-hour increase of 141 individuals.

There are no reports of structures burning, but 301 are threatened. Evacuation information is available at the Lemhi County website.

Names released of four first responders killed in New Mexico helicopter crash

The four first responders that died Saturday July 16 when a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office helicopter crashed northeast of Albuquerque, New Mexico have been identified: Undersheriff Larry Koren, Lieutenant Fred Beers, Deputy Michael Levison, and Rescue Specialist Matthew King. They were the only personnel on board.

All worked for the Sheriff’s Department except for Mr. King who was with the Bernalillo County Fire Department.

The Sheriff’s Department said in a news release July 17 that the “Metro 2” helicopter and its crew were assisting with the East Mesa Fire, providing bucket drops and other air logistics needs to fire crews on the ground.

Bernalillo County Sheriff's Dept. Metro 2
File photo of Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Dept. Metro 2. BCSO photo

The helicopter, a Bell UH-1H Huey, N911SZ, was destroyed.

Our sincere condolences go out to the families, friends, and co-workers of these men.

Air tanker crash in Portugal kills pilot

File photo. AT-802. Titan Aerial Firefighting photo.

This article was first published on Fire Aviation.

A pilot died Friday in the crash of an air tanker in Northeast Portugal.

In a message on his official Twitter account, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said, “It was with great dismay that I became aware of the death of the pilot who operated an aircraft that crashed this afternoon….I send my deepest condolences to family and friends.”

The Air Tractor AT-802AF Fire Boss went down near the town of Torre de Moncorvo after scooping water on the Douro river. The pilot was the only person on board the single engine air tanker that had departed from Viseu-Gonçalves Lobato Airport (VSE/LPVZ). Photos show that the aircraft was severely damaged. Joao Sousa, mayor of the town of Foz Coa where the incident took place, told Lusa news agency the pilot was pronounced dead at the scene.

The aircraft was operated by Titan Aerial Firefighting which has offices in Spain. The company announced on Saturday that the pilot was André Serra, from Agromontiar.

“On behalf of the whole company, friends and colleagues say goodbye to you,” they wrote. “We offer our deepest condolences to the relatives of André, a great professional and better person who has left us too soon. Rest in peace.”

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and co-workers of Mr. Serra.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Gerald.

28 years ago eight firefighters survived the South Canyon Fire in their shelters

South Canyon memorial
South Canyon Fire memorial in Two Rivers Park, Glenwood Springs, Colorado.

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the entrapment and death of 14 firefighters on the South Canyon Fire who were overrun by the fire on Storm King Mountain near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Those firefighters were Kathi Beck, Tamera Bickett, Scott Blecha, Levi Brinkley, Robert Browning, Doug Dunbar, Terri Hagen, Bonnie Holtby, Rob Johnson, Jon Kelso, Don Mackey, Roger Roth, Jim Thrash, and Richard Tyler.

Barry Stevenson of Outside Adventure Media produced the short video below that looks at an often overlooked part of the event — the eight smokejumpers further uphill who took refuge in their fire shelters for two hours as the fire burned around them.

If you have not seen it already, be sure and watch the excellent lessons learned video about the South Canyon Fire titled Everyone Goes HomeIt includes numerous interviews of wildland firefighters who were involved with, or were on scene during the entrapment and deaths of the 14 firefighters.

For more information about the South Canyon Fire visit

Retired Fire Chief killed in Nebraska wildfire

National Incident Management Team mobilized

Updated 8:17 a.m. MDT April 26, 2022

Blackhawk helicopters Road 702 fire Nebraska National Guard
Blackhawk helicopters from the Nebraska National Guard drop water on the Road 702 Fire west of Cambridge. Incident Management Team photo.

Firefighters made good progress Monday on the Road 702 Fire in southwest Nebraska.

Most of the fire impacted grass and crop lands, but there are woody draws which have heavier fuels, especially on Beaver Creek along Highway 89 and near the Republican River south of US 34. Those areas are receiving more attention from firefighters as they are mopping up. Incident Commander Rob Powell said there will be smoke in those draws for a while.

The most recent map produced at 4 p.m. MDT April 25 shows an increase of about 300 acres to bring the total up to 41,448 acres, due to a four mile long finger of fire north of US 34 northeast of Bartley that was not detected during an earlier mapping flight. Fire crews have contained all of the fire north of the highway, including the additional acreage.

The fire started in Kansas on Friday April 22 during a wind event which pushed it north quickly into Nebraska where it continued running. The fire was 27 miles long when firefighters were able to stop it two miles southwest of the Medicine Creek Reservoir.

9:46 a.m. MDT April 25, 2022

Map Road 702 Fire Nebraska
Map of the Road 702 Fire at 1:42 p.m. MDT April 24, 2022.

A retired fire chief died in a Nebraska fire that has burned 41,155 acres in the southwest part of the state. The Road 702 Fire is west of the towns of Cambridge and Wilsonville and has crossed both US 34 and State highway 89. About 1,500 acres of the blaze is in Kansas.

Alyssa Sanders, with the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, said 66-year-old John P. Trumble, of Arapahoe, was overcome by smoke and fire after his vehicle left the road Friday April 22 during conditions of poor visibility caused by smoke and dust. His body was found early Saturday. He was assisting firefighters by serving as a spotter in Red Willow County.

Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Road 702 Fire. Nebraska State Patrol drone photo.

Nebraska National Guard has mobilized three helicopters and several support trucks to help battle the fire.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team from the Rocky Mountain Geographic Area led by Incident Commander Dan Dallas assumed command April 24.

Stephanie Shively with the Incident Management Team said Monday morning that the resources on the fire include 9 engines, one 20-person crew, and the 3 National Guard helicopters for a total of about 100 personnel. They have outstanding orders for dozers and another hand crew.

Ms. Shively said the size of the fire has not changed since it was mapped Sunday.

We send our sincere condolences to the family, friends, and co-workers of Chief Trumble.

Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Road 702 Fire. Posted April 24, 2022 by Loomis Volunteer Fire & Rescue.
Road 702 Fire wildfire Nebraska
Nebraska Army and Air National Guard firefighters work the edges of a burned area near Hayes Center, Neb., April 24, 2022, to extinguish hot spots and prevent reignition. Photos courtesy of Capt. Joshua Miller.

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