Twelve wildland firefighters and a pilot were killed on Sunday when their helicopter crashed in south-central Chile. The National Forestry Corporation, Chile's equivalent to the United States' National Park Service, said they were being ferried either to or from a fire in a eucalyptus plantation when the helicopter crashed.
Various reports are giving two different numbers on the fatalities; some say 13 were killed and others say it was 14.
The victims were men between the ages of 18 and 30 who worked for Celulosa Arauco y Constitucion, a timber and pulp company known as CELCO. Many of them were students working seasonally in order to make money for school.
An emergency official said that there was light rain and a dense mist in the area at the time of the crash, which occurred near Chanco, 165 miles south of Santiago.
Firefighters in Chile have been very busy since the beginning of January, Chile's hottest summer month, working on numerous fires which have burned 37,000 acres.
This accident is reminiscent of the helicopter crash in northern California in August, 2008 that killed nine wildland firefighters. Our hearts go out to our firefighter brothers and sisters in Chile.
Video shows fire engine tumbling into hole left by collapsed road - No firefighters hurt when San Bernardino County rig tumbles into collapsed roadway
5 weeks ago