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Fiery mid-air collision of firefighting helicopters over Southern California kills 3, authorities say

3 killed in helicopter mid-air collision
3 killed in mid-air collision between 2 firefighting helicopters 01:46

Two firefighting helicopters collided in mid-air Sunday evening while battling a blaze in Riverside County, Calif., killing all three people on one of them, CalFire said, adding that the other landed safely.

CBS News Los Angeles says a "fiery mid-air collision" occurred.  

Cal Fire Southern Region Chief David Fulcher told reporters those killed were a CalFire division chief, a CalFire captain and a contract pilot. He said the crash sparked an additional four acre fire that was extinguished.     

Burned area near site of crash of firefighting helicopter in Riverside County, Calif. on August 6, 2023. The scorched earth may be from the crash or the fire, authorities said. CBS New Los Angeles

No one on the chopper that landed was hurt, officials said.

"Although this was a tragic event, we are also thankful today that it wasn't worse," Fulcher said. 

Sheriff's deputies responded at 7:20 p.m. to an air emergency as crews were battling the Broadway Fire near Cabazon, according to a post by the Riverside County Sheriff's office on X, formerly known as Twitter.

CBS News Los Angeles says the collision happened over Native American land.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

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