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Fatal Kmax Crash in Washington

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Pilots name was released and he was a good friend of mine, Randy Harmon. He flew the first Kmax in Taiwan for PHI and then went and worked for Superior Helicopter. He was a great pilot, and a great guy and will be very sadly missed.


Copter pilot killed in crash fighting wildfire


The Associated Press


KELLER, Ferry County - A helicopter dropping water on a wildfire on the Colville Indian Reservation crashed Friday evening, killing the pilot, authorities said.


The aircraft fighting the McGinnis Flats fire went down about three miles northwest of the town of Ferry in northeastern Washington, starting a small, new wildfire that was quickly contained, spokesman Nick Mickel said.


While Mickel and the Ferry County Sheriff''s Office refused to discuss the status of the pilot, a Bureau of Indian Affairs spokesman said late Friday night the coroner had been called to the scene.


BIA duty officer xxxx Leferink with the Colville Agency said he couldn''t provide any additional details.


The pilot was alone in the helicopter.


The aircraft, owned by Superior Helicopter Leasing of Grants Pass, Ore., was a Kaman K-1200, said Nancy Corey, a Federal Aviation Administration operations officer in Renton. The K-1200 is a multipurpose helicopter that can carry suspended loads and is used for firefighting, forestry and logging.


The McGinnis Flats fire has burned 2,217 acres, and was 70 percent contained Friday. There were 638 firefighters on the line.


The fire started July 18 and was human caused. It has cost more than $2.5 million to fight.


There have been no serious injuries from any of the other wildfires now burning in Washington, which have charred more than 90,000 acres.


As the uncontrolled Farewell Creek fire moved toward the Loomis State Forest of north-


central Washington on Friday, fire crews rushed to protect trees that provide money for schools across the state.


Their goal is to prevent the fire from burning trees on state trust lands where logging proceeds are used to build public schools, Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland said from Olympia.


The 63,856-acre Farewell Creek fire was burning four to six miles west of the 134,000-acre state forest.


"If we''re successful in the construction of this preventive fire line, the fire should not have an effect on the common school trust fund," Sutherland said.


Timber sales from the forest east of Loomis in northern Okanogan County produce about $2.25 million a year for the state''s school construction fund.


The Farewell Creek fire was burning northwest of the state forest and winds typically blow from the southwest, Sutherland said.


"It would take an extraordinary atmospheric situation to be able to push the fire south," he said.


However, the fire is so big it is creating powerful winds that uproot trees and hurl them half a mile away, sparking new spot fires, U.S. Forest Service officials have said.


The fire, burning in roadless wilderness where motorized vehicles are prohibited, is being fought by helicopters dropping water and retardant chemicals. Ground forces are on the wilderness perimeter, hoping to keep the flames inside.


Fire managers have predicted the fire could reach 190,000 acres and continue to burn until the heavy rains, or early snows, of the fall. They say it could cost $69 million to fight.


The fire was started by lightning June 29 and has cost nearly $21 million to fight so far.


Elsewhere in Washington, a 25,000-acre fire burning in grass and brush on the U.S. Army''s Yakima Training Center in central Washington was fully contained Friday.


The 1,064-acre Watt Road fire southwest of Cheney, near Spokane, also was fully contained Friday, fire spokeswoman Josie Williams said.



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