Crash kills pilot of helicopter fighting Canada wildfires


The pilot of a helicopter that crashed in Canada’s Alberta province during wildfire fighting operations has died, authorities said.

Investigators are headed to the site of the deadly crash which took place southeast of the town of Manning in the province’s Peace River area.

The crash comes days after two wildfire fighters were killed combating blazes.

Nearly 900 fires are burning across Canada, including 553 that are considered “out of control”.

The helicopter pilot, 41, was helping with “bucketing” operations, in which specialised buckets suspended by cables are used to douse fires, officials said.

Authorities first received transmissions from an emergency beacon at the crash site at 1815 local time (0115 BST), according to a spokesperson for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) quoted by CBC.

“It collided with the ground during firefighting operations,” said spokesperson Chris Krepski.

“I don’t know what phase it would have been, whether it would have been while it was picking up water or it was releasing water,” he added. “That is typically what we would try to find out.”

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Officers arrived at the crash site – which is inaccessible by road – two hours later. The pilot was declared dead after being evacuated to Peace River airport.

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It comes just days after two wildfire fighters were killed battling blazes in separate incidents in the Northwest Territories and British Columbia.

Canada has surpassed its record for the largest area burnt by wildfires in a single year.

So far this year, wildfires have razed over 24 million acres (10 million hectares) – an area roughly the size of Iceland or the US state of Indiana.

Smoke from the fires this year has prompted air quality advisories across huge swathes of the US, with tens of millions of Americans subject to warnings.

Climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires. The world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.

Related Topics

  • Wildfires
  • Canada
  • Alberta

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