Firefighting helicopter crashes; pilot killed

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. — A helicopter fighting a forest fire near the Marble Mountain Wilderness crashed this morning, killing the pilot.

The helicopter was battling the Elk fire, one of 30 lightning-caused fires burning within the Elk Complex near Happy Camp.

The heavy helicopter crashed on a ridge between Elk and Bear creeks about 12 miles south-southeast of Happy Camp, said fire information officer Mel Cagle. The crash, which was reported at about 10:15 a.m., started a small fire that ground crews and another helicopter extinguished. Weather was clear on the ridge when the crash happened, Cagle said.

The cause of the crash is under investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified. The name of the company that owned the helicopter and the name of the pilot will be released later, after officials have notified the family, Cagle said.

— Anita Burke

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