Helicopter crashes while assisting firefighters battling Fairview Fire

A helicopter assisting with operations in the Fairview Fire near Hemet crashed while attempting to land at the Banning Airport, fire officials said Saturday afternoon.

The helicopter was privately owned, officials said, and crashed into a backyard just before 4 p.m. at a residence near the airport. The pilot and two others sustained moderate injuries and were taken to a trauma center for treatment, they said.

A statement released by the Federal Aviation Agency said the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the incident.

Pilots have been battling the Fairview Fire day and night, and had it about 40% contained at 28,300 acres as of Saturday morning, said Cal Fire spokesperson Rob Roseen. Two people have been killed and at least one person taken to the hospital with injuries during the course of the fire, he said, adding that the injured victim is expected to survive. Thirteen buildings have been destroyed, with another four sustaining damage, he said.

He said fire officials expect the blaze to be fully extinguished by Monday. Nearly 1,200 firefighters have been deployed to the area.

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