RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. (KGTV/KABC) — Two firefighting helicopters collided while responding to the Broadway Fire in Riverside County Sunday night, killing three people aboard one of the aircraft.
In a media briefing early Monday morning, Southern Region Chief David Fulcher said an a Cal Fire division chief, a Cal Fire captain, and a contract pilot were killed after the helicopter they were in crashed following the collision.
Fulcher said the accident involved a huge Sikorsky S-64E and a smaller Bell 407. The larger Sikorsky landed safely. No one on the ground was injured in the incident.
The helicopter’s crash sparked a small brush fire that burned about four acres before ground crews quickly put it out.
The victims were Cal Fire Assistant Chief Josh Bischof, Cal Fire Capt. Tim Rodriguez, and contract pilot Tony Sousa, the firefighting agency said.
“This was a tragic loss for the community, the fire services community, Cal Fire, and the Riverside Fire Department … We have lost three great individuals. Three fathers, three husbands, three friends, three sons …,” said Fulcher.
The pilot of the crashed helicopter was flying under contract with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The Sikorsky and its two-person crew were also under contract.
The Broadway Fire was burning nearby Broadway and Esperanza avenues. It was roughly three-acres in size as of Sunday evening, and CalFire said on Twitter the fire has stopped spreading.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and FAA will be investigating the cause of the crash.
#BroadwayFire [UPDATE] The forward rate of spread has been stopped.
— CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department (@CALFIRERRU) August 7, 2023
This is a developing story please check back for updates.