COALINGA, Calif. — Cal Fire says that the pilot of a firefighting helicopter was killed when the aircraft crashed near a wildfire in western Fresno County on Wednesday morning.
Cal Fire said that the pilot was on a water dropping mission on the Hills Fire, burning about nine miles south of the city of Coalinga, when the crash happened. Both air and ground resources responded immediately to the crash site, including the Fresno County Sheriff's Office search and rescue team.
"The pilot was the only person aboard the helicopter and did not survive the incident," Cal Fire said.
An initial statement from Cal Fire provided few details on the incident, but the agency said that this was a "Call When Needed" aircraft, suggesting that the crashed Bell UH-1H "Huey" helicopter was under contract by Cal Fire. It's unknown at this time if the pilot was a Cal Fire employee or that of a contracted company.
An investigation into the crash is now headed by the National Transportation Safety Board, assisted by Cal Fire.