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Wed, Aug 06, 2008

Carson S-61 Down Near NorCal Forest Fire

Four Reported Seriously Injured; Nine Missing

There are conflicting reports of fatalities following the downing of a Sikorsky S-61 firefighting helicopter in Northern California.

Four firefighters are reportedly in critical condition after the helicopter (file photo of type shown above) impacted terrain Tuesday evening, while transporting personnel to battle a fire in Northern California. The Sacramento Bee reports the helo, operated by Carson Helicopters, crashed at the north end of the Buckhorn Fire at 7:45 pm. The accident site is about 15 miles northwest of Junction City.

The FAA reports 13 persons were onboard the helicopter. Four were initially taken to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, and two were later transferred to the UC Davis Regional Burn Center.

Officials said Wednesday nine firefighters were missing, and presumed dead. The US Forest Service confirmed there were fatalities, though it's unclear how many persons onboard were lost. The FAA's Preliminary Report -- which is just that, and subject to change -- makes no mention of fatalities, saying only seven of 13 people onboard were injured.

The helo crashed close to its intended landing site near the northern edge of the over 27-square-mile fire burning in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, reports KPIX-5. Despite the proximity to the fireline, the accident reportedly occured in VFR conditions.

The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched an investigation team to the scene.

IDENTIFICATION
 Regis#: 612AZ    Make/Model: S61    Description: S-61A/B/D/L/N (SH-3, UH-3, VH-3, HSS-2,
 Date: 08/06/2008   Time: 0230

 Event Type: Accident  Highest Injury: None   Mid Air: N  Missing: N
 Damage: Substantial

LOCATION
 City: REDDING  State: CA  Country: US

DESCRIPTION
 N612AZ, A SIKORSKY S-61N ROTORCRAFT, WHILE TRANSPORTING FIRE FIGHTERS,
 CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, THERE WERE 13 PERSONS ON BOARD, 4
 SUSTAINED SERIOUS INJURIES AND 3 SUSTAINED MINOR INJURIES, 38 MILES FROM
 REDDING, CA

INJURY DATA   Total Fatal:  0
         # Crew:  2   Fat:  0   Ser:  0   Min:  0   Unk:  0
         # Pass: 11   Fat:  0   Ser:  0   Min:  0   Unk:  0
         # Grnd:     Fat:  0   Ser:  0   Min:  0   Unk: 

WEATHER: VFR

OTHER DATA
 Activity: Public Use   Phase: Unknown   Operation: OTHER


 FAA FSDO: SACRAMENTO, CA (WP25)        Entry date: 08/06/2008

FMI: www.faa.gov, www.fs.fed.us/, www.carsonhelicopters.com/

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