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Tragic Helicopter Collision Claims Three Lives in US Firefighting Effort, Confirms Cal Fire

Three individuals lost their lives in a tragic incident in California. A helicopter crash occurred on a hillside as the team was engaged in battling a wildfire. The crash was a result of a collision between two helicopters, according to statements from emergency officials on early Monday.

The helicopters had been dispatched to address a brush fire that had ignited in Cabazon, a town situated approximately 85 miles (137 kilometers) to the east of Los Angeles. The collision took place in mid-air during their firefighting mission, as shared by Cal Fire Southern Region Chief David Fulcher during a press briefing.

Remarkably, one of the helicopters managed to make a safe landing in close proximity to the crash site. However, the second helicopter, unfortunately, crashed, leading to the tragic loss of all three occupants. Among those who perished were a Cal Fire Division chief, a Cal Fire fire captain, and a contract client pilot, as solemnly conveyed by Fulcher.

He extended heartfelt condolences to the grieving families of the deceased, emphasizing, “We mourn the passing of these three exceptional individuals.”

According to official announcements on social media, the fire in Cabazon expanded to approximately three acres (1.2 hectares) as firefighting teams took action.

A local ABC radio station affiliate provided details about the helicopters involved. The helicopter that managed to land safely was identified as a Sikorsky Skycrane, designed to carry retardant that can be released onto flames. The helicopter that tragically crashed was a Bell helicopter, typically utilized for observational purposes during firefighting operations.

Media sources report that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has initiated an investigation into the incident in Cabazon.

This unfortunate event follows an incident 11 months prior, where a Cal Fire helicopter made a crash landing near Banning, just a short distance away from Cabazon, resulting in injuries to three individuals.

The state of California grapples with thousands of wildfires annually, with the summer months being particularly vulnerable to such incidents. Notably, an ongoing fire south of Fresno, a city in California, has already consumed 5,100 acres of land and remains at zero percent containment, according to the latest update from Cal Fire.

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