PGE helicopter crash

A Pacific Gas and Electric contract helicopter crashed and ignited a fire Monday morning between San Andreas and Valley Springs, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol reported just after 10 a.m.

Three people on the helicopter all received minor injuries, Sgt. Greg Stark with the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said.

The helicopter came down in a field near the junction of Highways 12 and 26 and firefighters were called out. There was a report of a mayday aircraft emergency.

Cal Fire personnel and Calaveras County Sheriff’s deputies were on scene. PG&E communications staff were gathering information about the incident. Federal Aviation Administration staff were seeking information about the reported helicopter crash and fire.

Just before 12 p.m. Monday, a spokesperson for PG&E said a contract helicopter flying on behalf of PG&E conducted an emergency landing near San Andreas in Calaveras County.

“The pilot and two PG&E electric troublemen were able to exit the helicopter before it caught on fire,” PG&E communications staff said. “The fire was quickly extinguished and the three were transported to a local hospital. PG&E is working closely with first responders to ensure the safety of the area.”

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have been notified, PG&E staff said.

Also just before 12 p.m., Emma Duncan with FAA communications said, “A McDonnell Douglas 600N helicopter made an emergency landing under unknown circumstances next to Highway 12 near San Andreas, Calif., shortly after 10 a.m. local time today. The aircraft burned after landing.”

The FAA will release the tail number of the aircraft after investigators verify it at the accident site, Duncan said.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation.

The crash came seven weeks after another PG&E contract helicopter helping with power line repair work hit a power line and crashed near Fairfield in Solano County, killing two passengers and the pilot, Roscoe Gray, 38, of Sonora.

That crash occurred about 1:27 p.m. June 2, when a Bell 206L3 helicopter, N-number N65PJ, was destroyed. The helicopter was operated by PJ Helicopters under contract from Pacific Gas and Electric to perform power line repair work, National Transportation Safety Board investigators said in a preliminary report.

According to PG&E, the linemen had completed work for the day and had been picked up by the pilot, an NTSB report states. The lineman would have been connected to an external cable and airlifted back to the landing zone.

During transition to forward flight, the helicopter contacted a lower power line and hit the ground. A witness to the accident said the helicopter contacted the power line, hit the ground and rolled downhill. The helicopter came to rest in a ravine.

 

Contact Guy McCarthy at gmccarthy@uniondemocrat.com or 770-0405. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.

 

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