7 Aug 2008

Nine feared dead in US air crash

1:28 pm on 7 August 2008

Nine people are missing feared dead after a helicopter carrying firefighters crashed on its way to a forest fire in northern California.

The helicopter went down on Tuesday night about 56km north-west of Redding in a remote area.

The BBC reports the cause of the crash of the Sikorsky S-61 was not immediately known.

The helicopter was carrying 11 firefighters and two crewmen. Four people are being treated in hospital for burns. Two are said to be in critical condition and two serious.

They had been tackling a blaze that was covering 70sq km of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

The Federal Aviation Administration, said the helicopter was destroyed in the crash. Investigators are being sent to the scene.

The New Zealand Fire Service says no New Zealanders or Australians were involved.

Last month nine New Zealanders and 35 Australians went to the United States to help fight the fires in California.