FALL RIVER MIL, CALIF. – A private helicopter crashed Monday afternoon, injuring three firefighters while doing mapping and reconnaissance work on the Straylor Fire near Fall River Mills.
“It went down and we don’t know why,” said Information Officer Jeff Fontana at the Interagency Center in Susanville. “The Bell 206 Jet Ranger Helicopter was being used for mapping and reconnaissance work on the fire.”
Fontana said the pilot and two passengers were injured in the crash. All three were treated at Mercy Medical Center in Redding.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF) firefighter Bill Baxter from Mendocino suffered a broken leg and CDF firefighter Rich Sampson from Santa Cruse a broken sternum. The name and injuries of the pilot have yet to be released by helicopter company.
Fontana said that CDF has assigned a serious accident investigation team to investigate the incident and determine its cause. This is a multi-agency team that includes FAA and fire behavior experts.
Sparks from a “hot saw” working on a logging project started the Straylor Fire on July 22. It is located southeast of Fall River Mills and has burned 3,600 acres.
Fontana reported that the fire is now 85 percent contained with full containment expected on Thursday. No structures have been damaged. More 1,800 firefighters, including crews from Yreka, have worked on the Straylor Fire.