Nine Firefighters Feared Dead, Others Injured in California Wildfire Chopper Crash

Los Angeles Firefighter Killed - In the Line of DutyMultiple news outlets are reporting that a wildfire chopper crash in California late last night has claimed the lives of as many as nine firefighters, in what would be one of the largest losses of firefighters in recent memory.

The helicopter was carrying 11 firefighters and two crew members when it went down Tuesday night in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, according to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, the Associated Press reported.

Four people including a pilot were taken to hospitals with severe burns, including two in critical condition, according to the U.S. Forest Service. The chopper was shuttling firefighters into remote areas of the blaze.

The Oregonian reported that the firefighters may have worked for Grayback Forestry, a private firefighting contractor based in Merlin, Ore.

Grayback issued a statement late this afternoon confirming that at least three of its personnel had been injured, but did not advise on fatalities. The injured team members were listed as Michael Brown, 20, and Jonathan Frohreich, 18, who were transported to the University of California Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Rick Schoeder, 42, was admitted to Mercy Medical Center in Redding, Calif. The condition and extent of their injuries is unknown at this time.

The Oregonian also reported that this would be the second large scale tragedy for the company. On June 21, 2002, a van carrying 11 Grayback workers rolled over in eastern Oregon while on the way to a Colorado fire. Four people were killed outright and a fifth died later.

The NTSB issued the following statement: The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a Go Team to investigate a helicopter crash in a remote wooded area about 35 miles northwest of Redding, California. The Sikorsky S-61N (N612AZ) operated by the U.S. Department of Forestry, crashed at about 7:30 p.m. PDT last night during takeoff. A post-crash fire ensued. Of the 13 people reported to be on-board, four suffered serious injuries; nine are unaccounted for and are presumed to be fatally injured.

Nine Charleston, S.C. firefighters were killed last year battling a furniture blaze, the largest loss of firefighters in a single incident since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 which claimed 343 firefighters.

Firefighter Nation will add continuing coverage of this story including video, photo and story links as additional information comes in about those lost and injured.

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Comment by Mike Huff on August 8, 2008 at 1:04am
Chaplain Mike Huff
To the families that have death overshadowing them God's Light shines over you. The death of a love one is as a hard walk as any can be. Their journey here on earth is down, now the the walk through the DARK VALLEY is starting. The LIGHT that cast the shadow will in time bring joy to you. Please allow others to be comfort to you.

Lord there is no way of saying the right words of comfort to a loved one that death has crossed their path. Help them to remember that these gave so that others may live and property, not their own, may be protected. Touch the lives of FAMILY and FRIENDS so that they know that you ARE with them.

No matter how they feel now YOU are ALWAYS there in times of heart ache.

In YOUR Name
Thank You
Comment by brock griffin on August 8, 2008 at 1:00am
i have a good friend over in california too.

theres a LT on the dept. im on whos in the army as a firefighter to now hes in baghdad iraq for the next 8 months
Comment by Blake Leweniqila on August 7, 2008 at 6:46pm
I believe its not very easy, as a firefighting family member to all my brothers and sisters through out the Globe, be courages and have have faith in God. as our prayer says:-
If it't thy will Oh! God
For Me to Loose my Life
Please protect my Children
My family and my Wife/Husband

May God reachly touched and blessed each and every fire fighters and the families of those who have loose their lives.
Comment by kata on August 7, 2008 at 4:58pm
This is very big loss. They are in the heaven already. My condolence is honest.
Comment by Lisa on August 7, 2008 at 1:44pm
I now know my friends are safe...but Im still so bothered by this tragedy. I am still so upset over this....NINE!! Nine angels that we lost...
Comment by catfish on August 7, 2008 at 12:20pm
it is a sad day.i pray for the families and survivors.we never know when the lord will call us home.he needed some firefighters up there more than we needed them was his call.and a sad one for us.goodbye brothers
Comment by SHONDA on August 7, 2008 at 10:58am
Nine again, what a awful tragedy! My prayers to the families, my heart to my Fallen Brothers.
Some give it in Peace.
Comment by James Hoy , FF530 on August 7, 2008 at 10:13am
May God be with our Fallen Brothers, and be with their families in there time of need. Also , May God give strenght and complete recovery to those injured , AMEN.
Comment by Sewes on August 7, 2008 at 9:49am
It is sad to hear that some of our fire fighting lost there lives in the line of
duty my god be with there families and give then the sthrenght to carry on
we pray for you it feel like we lost a part of the family ever if it is not in our
country but somewhere in the world you are still part of the fire fighter family MAY THE LORD BLESS EACH AND EVERY ONE
Comment by Devil Doc on August 7, 2008 at 6:19am
God bless our fallen brothers and sisters.

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