Helicopter pilot killed while battling wildfires in Canada

Insight Online News

Ottawa, July 21 : A helicopter pilot was killed in a crash in Canada’s Alberta province during wildfire fighting operations — the third such fatality to occur amid the record fires in the country.

In a statement on Thursday, police said that the 41-year-old pilot died from injuries he sustained in the crash that took place south-east of the town of Manning in the Peace River area, despite life-saving efforts by forestry workers who arrived at the site first, reports Xinhua news agency.

Authorities first received transmissions from an emergency beacon at the crash site at 6.15 p.m. on Thursday, BBC quoted Chris Krepski, a spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) , as saying to CBC News.

“It collided with the ground during firefighting operations. I don’t know what phase it would have been, whether it would have been while it was picking up water or it was releasing water. That is typically what we would try to find out,” he added.

Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “I’m heartbroken to hear that another Canadian fighting wildfires has lost their life. We’ll never forget his service to his province and to our country.”

Last week, 19-year-old firefighter Devyn Gale died after a tree fell on her near Revelstoke, British Columbia.

On July 15, Adam Yeadon was killed while fighting a wildfire near his home in Fort Liard, the Northwest Territories.

Currently, nearly 900 fires are burning across Canada, including 553 that are considered “out of control”.

The country has surpassed its record for the largest area burnt by wildfires in a single year.

So far this year, wildfires have razed over 24 million acres of land in Canada — an area roughly the size of Iceland or the US state of Indiana.

Smoke from the fires has prompted air quality advisories across swathes of the US, with tens of millions of Americans subject to warnings.

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