Pilot crashes, dies fighting central California wildfire

FILE - A firefighting aircraft performs a water drop over the Lightening complex fire at Ano Nuevo State Park in San Mateo County. Photo: Alexander Nguyen.

A pilot battling a fire in central California died after his helicopter crashed Wednesday morning.

Cal Fire said in a statement that a Call When Needed helicopter crashed while fighting a wildfire in western Fresno County. The Bell UH-1H helicopter was on a water dropping mission on the Hills Fire, about 9 miles (14 kilometers) south of Coalinga.

The pilot was the only one on board.

The Fresno Sheriff’s office was called shortly after 11 a.m. to assist in a search and rescue mission.

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