California helicopter pilot who died fighting fires leaves behind wife and 2 children

A helicopter pilot killed in a crash while fighting one of the hundreds of California wildfires was identified as an employee of an aviation company contracted by the state fire agency who leaves behind a wife and two daughters.

Mike Fournier, 52, was identified by his grief-stricken family in Rancho Cucamonga, where the local fire department sent an engine by his home Wednesday night to pay respects, KNBC-TV reported.

“He was an amazing, amazing man and I am so proud to be his wife,” LeAnne Fournier told the station.

Fournier was killed Wednesday morning when the Bell UH-1H helicopter went down in a rural area south of the Central Valley city of Coalinga while on a water-dropping mission at the Hills Fire, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Air and ground units responded to the scene and the body was recovered late that night, the office said.

The pilot was working with Fillmore-based Guardian Helicopters, which has a contract with the state fire agency to provide emergency services, said Zoe Keliher, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.