Fire Fighting in Canada

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Fire fighter killed in chopper crash in northern Alta.

September 2006 - GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. (CP) – Federal investigators say a helicopter that crashed near a remote ranger tower in northern Alberta in July was having problems in windy conditions and was trying to land.

December 14, 2007
By Fire Fighting in Canada

September 2006 – GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. (CP) – Federal investigators say a helicopter that crashed near a remote ranger tower in northern Alberta in July was having problems in windy conditions and was trying to land.

Transportation Safety Board investigator Bill Kemp said on July 13 that the Bell 206 helicopter had just taken off from the Nose Mountain tower on July 3, and veered right as it headed towards the brow of a hill. The group was taking off at about 6:30 p.m. to look for small fires, called smokes, sparked by lightning. Kemp said the pilot was forced to land 100 metres from the takeoff site in order to avoid colliding with the hill or losing control. But when it hit the ground, the helicopter rolled over, causing the main rotor of the helicopter to detach and pierce the cabin.

The helicopter was carrying the pilot and three fire fighters, who were on patrol for forest blazes. One of the fire fighters, 20-year-old Darcy Moses of Valleyview, died from his injuries. Another fire fighter, Rob Anderson, 27, had his left leg and arm amputated.

The Nose Mountain tower is 65 kilometres southwest of Grande Prairie.

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Kemp said investigators are now examining the performance capabilities of the helicopter to determine if that was a factor in the crash.

The day after the crash, another helicopter went down at a remote lake 380 kilometres north of Edmonton, killing pilot Dave Naar, 35, of Niagara Falls, Ont.

Naar was filling a large fire fighting bucket beneath his Bell 206B helicopter when the chopper crashed into the shoreline, killing him instantly. The crash remains under investigation.

Meanwhile, the safety board has called in an investigator from British Columbia to look into the crash of a Eurocopter Astar 350 that was attempting to lift off in front of a hangar at the Grande Prairie Airport on July 5.

The helicopter, owned by Highland Helicopters, ended up on its side. No one was hurt.

Jonathan Lee, western regional manager with board’s Edmonton office, said the investigator was brought in due to a shortage of personnel in Edmonton.

(Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune)