JUNCTION CITY, Calif
Nine people missing following a firefighting helicopter crash in Trinity County are presumed to be dead, the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.
Four firefighters were badly burned in the crash, which took place at about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday about 15 miles northwest of Junction City, west of Redding.
The chopper was operating under contract and was carrying 13 people — including 11 firefighters and two crew members — at the time it went down.
Ian Gregor, spokesman for the FAA, said the nine missing people are likely dead. Sharon Heywood, a Forest Service supervisor, confirmed fatalities but did not offer specifics.
Three of the injured fire personnel — including the pilot — were at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento and were listed in critical or serious condition.
The fourth firefighter remained at Mercy Medical Center in Redding and was listed in serious but stable condition.
The firefighters were hurt when their Sikorsky S-61 helicopter crashed near the north end of the so-called Buckhorn Fire, which has burned nearly 25 square miles.
The large, yellow helicopter was operated by Carson Helicopters, which has offices in Grants Pass, Ore., and Perkasie, Pa.
Bob Madden of Carson Helicopters said his company operates a large fleet of Sikorsky S-61 choppers.
“We don’t know what occurred,” Madden said. “We haven’t examined the aircraft yet. We’ve never had a copter go down due to firefighting efforts.”
Carson Helicopters said the Sikorsky S-61 can transport 18 firefighters and drop up to 1,000 gallons of water via a bucket suspended from the bottom.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board were investigating.
Firefighting News by WestCoast911.com