Helicopter pilot dies fighting Ore. wildfire

The pilot had been fighting the White River Fire at Mt. Hood National Forest

Duty Death: Thomas Duffy - [Belgrade, Montana]

End of Service: 08/24/2020


Update Sept. 1, 2020: The pilot who was killed battling the White River Fire at Mount Hood National Forest was identified as Thomas Duffy, 40, of Central Copters, Inc. in Belgrade, Montana, according to the U.S. Fire Administration

Duffy was serving as a wildland-contract pilot for the U.S. Forest Service conducting bucket drops when his Type 1 Kmax helicopter crashed, according to the USFA. The official cause of the crash remains under investigation. 

Jim Ryan
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

A helicopter pilot was killed while battling the White River Fire in Oregon on Monday, officials say. (Photo/U.S. Forest Service)
A helicopter pilot was killed while battling the White River Fire in Oregon on Monday, officials say. (Photo/U.S. Forest Service)

A helicopter pilot died Monday in an undescribed accident while fighting a wildfire in the Mt. Hood National Forest, authorities say.

The U.S. Forest Service said the pilot had been operating a helicopter that was dousing the White River fire, which is burning southeast of Oregon’s tallest peak. The agency didn’t specify how the pilot was killed, and no additional information was immediately available.

The pilot’s death marks Oregon’s first known wildfire-related fatality of the year.

“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,” the Forest Service said in a statement.

The incident will be investigated, and the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration have been notified.

The lightning-caused fire was discovered Aug. 17 and has since grown to about 1,100 acres. It’s located 13 miles southeast of Government Camp and is 5% contained. Trail, recreation site and road closures are in effect.

The fire is one of several large blazes burning throughout the state. A media briefing about the pilot’s death will be held Tuesday.

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©2020 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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