CALIFORNIA – Officials announced late Sunday night that three people died in a collision between two helicopters while battling the fire in the Cabazon community of Southern California.
“The first helicopter was able to land safely nearby. Unfortunately, the second helicopter was involved in an accident, resulting in the tragic death of all three crew members,” said David Fulcher, the CalFire Southern Region Chief, during a press conference.
Fulcher mentioned that among the victims were an experienced pilot, a CalFire Division Chief, and a CalFire Captain.
According to the regional chief, helicopters were among the six aircraft responding to the Broadway Fire that ignited on Sunday in a structure.
As per a post on the joint Twitter account of CalFire and Riverside County Fire Department, around 6 PM when fire crews responded, the Broadway Fire engulfed nearly three acres of land. By around 7 PM, the “rate of spread” had been halted.
Fulcher mentioned that due to the helicopter accident, a second fire ignited in four acres, but it has since been extinguished.
According to CalFire’s statistics, these fatalities mark the first for California’s 2023 fire season.