(USNewsBreak.com) – Brush fires can be very dangerous. In the right conditions, they can spiral out of control quickly, so firefighters must work hard to contain blazes before they reach this level. However, there’s more than just the danger of fighting the flames on the ground; sometimes, things go horribly wrong while rescue efforts are underway. A recent tragedy in California resulted in three deaths.
On Sunday, August 6, while attempting to put out a brush fire near Cabazon, California, two helicopters — a Bell and a Sikorsky S-64 — collided mid-air. The Bell crashed, killing all three people on board. Authorities later identified the victims as 44-year-old Captain Tim Rodriguez of Cal Fire, 46-year-old Assistant Chief Josh Bischof of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and 55-year-old Tony Sousa, a contracted pilot. Those on the Sikorsky S-64 made a safe, albeit hard, landing, but both people on it survived.
Officials shared out photos of CAL FIRE Division Assistant Chief Josh Bischof, CAL FIRE Captain Tim Rodriguez, two of the three firefighters killed in Sunday's helicopter crash in Cabazon
— KESQ News Channel 3 (@KESQ) August 8, 2023
There are a lot of questions surrounding the tragic accident, but one aircraft expert, Robert Ditchey, was blunt in his assessment that “somebody really screwed up,” per the Los Angeles Times. He explained incident commanders on the ground direct the aircraft during a fire. Ditchey was confident in his assessment, saying it was “clearly a failure of command and control” and the pilots were not to blame. Initial investigators didn’t seem to think wind or visibility constituted contributing issues in the collision, nor was it a mechanical failure.
The incident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration. NTSB spokesperson Jennifer Gabris said the agency would release “factual information when available,” though it estimated the probe could take up to two years.
The crash sparked another blaze that encompassed 4 acres, and firefighters promptly extinguished it. California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) ordered the flags flown half-staff at the state Capitol.
Copyright 2023, USNewsBreak.com