Two U.S. Forest Service workers were killed and a third was seriously injured Monday when their helicopter crashed during a controlled burn in Mississippi, authorities said.
The helicopter, a Bell 206L-1, went down about 3 p.m. (4 p.m. ET) near Saucier, about 25 miles northwest of Biloxi, the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed. The NTSB said it would lead the investigation.
"We do have two confirmed fatalities," Harrison County Fire Chief Pat Sullivan told reporters. The third crew member was airlifted to the University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile, he said.
The men were contract workers who were monitoring a controlled burn of about 800 acres in De Soto National Forest, authorities said.
Eddie Baggett, a prescribed fire specialist for the Forest Service, told the Biloxi Sun-Herald that he lost contact with the crew shortly before 3 p.m.
"Somebody called me on the radio and said we may have an incident," Baggett told the newspaper. "Usually, I'm talking to them all the time."