In a heartbreaking incident, two helicopters collided while battling a wildfire in Cabazon, Southern California, leading to the loss of three lives. The announcement came late Sunday night, leaving the community devastated.
According to CalFire Southern Region Chief David Fulcher, the first helicopter managed to land safely nearby, but the second one tragically crashed, claiming the lives of three individuals, including a contracted pilot, a CalFire division chief, and a CalFire captain.
VEGETATION FIRE – 6:03 p.m. Broadway Av X Esperanza Av, in Cabazon. Firefighters responded to a vegetation fire burning in light flashy fuels with a moderate rate of spread. The fire is approx 3 acres. More information will be posted as it becomes available. #BroadwayFire pic.twitter.com/pSeDuGoYr8
— CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department (@CALFIRERRU) August 7, 2023
The helicopters were part of a team of six aircraft responding to the Broadway Fire, which started after a structure fire spread to nearby vegetation.
The Broadway Fire initially covered about three acres, but thanks to the swift response of firefighters, the forward spread was halted by 7 p.m. A secondary fire, spanning four acres, was sparked by the helicopter crash but has since been extinguished.
This unfortunate event marks the first casualties of California’s 2023 fire season, as reported by CalFire.
“Our deepest sympathies and sorrow go out to the families and coworkers of the personnel involved,” expressed Chief Fulcher, acknowledging the profound impact of this tragedy on the community and the firefighting agencies.
The National Transportation Safety Board will conduct a thorough investigation into the helicopter collision. CNN has reached out to the agency for further comments.
Located about 90 miles east of Los Angeles, Cabazon is a close-knit community in Riverside County that has been left in mourning by this devastating incident.
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