Firefighting pilot killed in helicopter crash in Oregon

The pilot died battling a fire in Mount Hood National Forest.
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FILE - In this Aug. 12, 2020, file photo, a helicopter drops water on the Lake Hughes Fire in Angeles National Forest north of Santa Clarita, Calif. A huge forest fire that prompted evacuations north of Los Angeles flared up around noon Saturday, Aug. 15, sending up a cloud of smoke as it headed toward thick, dry brush in the Angeles National Forest. Evacuation orders remain in effect for the western Antelope Valley because erratic winds in the forecast could push the fire toward homes. Record-breaking heat is possible through the weekend, with triple-digit temperatures and unhealthy air predicted for many parts of the state. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

(ABC News) – A helicopter pilot died Monday while battling the White River Fire in Mount Hood National Forest, officials said Tuesday.

About 20 miles east of Portland, Oregon, the pilot was flying a Type 1 Kmax and conducting bucket drops in rough terrain at the time of the crash, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Suzanne Flory said in a statement. The identity of the pilot has yet to be released.

“The firefighting community is heartbroken to learn of this tragic loss and our condolences go out to the pilot’s family, friends and co-workers,” Flory added.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and USDA Forest Service air and ground resources responded immediately to the crash site, and an investigation into the cause of the accident is currently underway, according to Flory.

Caused by lightning on Aug. 17, The White River Fire has burned more than 1,200 acres and is 15% contained. Currently, more than 300 people are battling the inferno, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The White River Fire and other Oregon wildfires are burning alongside the state’s massive Indian Creek Fire, which was human-caused on Aug. 16, and has burned nearly 50,000 acres, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has extended an air quality advisory for potions of southern, central and easter Oregon because of wildfire smoke.

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