Three people were killed when a helicopter that was deployed to fight a wildfire in Southern California collided with another and crashed on Sunday evening, officials said.
The three men who were killed were aboard one of the helicopters, Southern Region Chief David Fulcher of Cal Fire, the state’s firefighting agency, said in a news conference early Monday. He said the other helicopter landed safely.
Chief Fulcher did not name the victims but said they included two Cal Fire personnel and a pilot. No other injuries were reported.
Both helicopters were under an “exclusive agreement” with Cal Fire, Chief Fulcher said.
The collision and crash occurred as crews were responding to a fire in Riverside County, just east of Los Angeles, that started in a building and spread to the surrounding area, Chief Fulcher said.
The fire was reported by Cal Fire about 6 p.m. on Sunday. At that time, it had spread to about three acres. Within an hour, the agency said the fire had been contained.
The helicopter crash caused an additional four-acre fire, which was later extinguished, Chief Fulcher said.
He described the crash as a “tragic loss” for the community. “We’ve lost three great individuals,” he said. “Three fathers, three husbands, three friends, three sons.”
Lauren McCarthy and Corina Knoll contributed reporting.