updated 8/6/2006 1:26:44 AM ET 2006-08-06T05:26:44

A helicopter pilot and co-pilot were killed when the aircraft crashed into the Klamath River while battling a series of lightning-caused fires, authorities said Saturday.

The helicopter went down Friday night about 10 miles southwest of Happy Camp in Siskiyou County, according to sheriff’s and U.S. Forest Service officials.

The helicopter was owned by a private company working under contract with the Forest Service, agency spokeswoman Jean Gilbertson said. Names of the victims were not released.

The helicopter crew members were among more than 500 firefighters battling the Happy Camp complex — 11 blazes that were set off last month by lightning strikes. All but two of those fires have been contained.

No additional information would be released about the crash until a team from the National Transportation Board completes its investigation, Gilbertson said.


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