3 killed after firefighting helicopters collide in S. California

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. (NBC) – Three people were killed Sunday after two firefighting helicopters collided in southern California while fighting a blaze in Riverside County.

CAL FIRE officials say that after the helicopters collided in mid-air, one was able to land while the other crashed to the ground.

On board were two firefighters, including a CAL FIRE division chief and a captain, and a contracted pilot.

The victims have not yet been identified.

The helicopter crash sparked a separate four-acre wildfire that was later extinguished.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.

CAL FIRE Southern Region Chief David Fulcher said, “While engaged in the fire fight, two helicopters collided. The first helicopter was able to land safely nearby. Unfortunately, the second helicopter crashed and tragically all three members perished, which included one CAL FIRE division chief, one CAL FIRE captain and one contract client pilot

“This was a tragic loss for the community, the CAL FIRE community and the Riverside County Fire Department,” Fulcher added. “Although this was a tragic event, we are also thankful today that it wasn’t worse. The individuals in the first helicopter were able to able to land safely without incident and no one else was hurt.”

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