By Bill Carey
28 June 2022
ANDERSON, Alaska – A helicopter pilot was killed in crash on Sunday while working on the Clear Fire northwest of Anderson.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that pilot Douglas Ritchie with Northern Pioneer Helicopters was taking off from Anderson Airport with a sling-load of equipment to be delivered to the fire area when the crash occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m.
InciWeb, the wildfire incident information system, also reported on the crash. The Alaska Division of Forestry & Fire Protection, Alaska State Troopers, and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.
Ritchie, 56, had been with Northern Pioneer Helicopters for 12 years and was the lead pilot.
His death is the first wildland firefighter death in Alaska in over 20 years according to data from the United States Fire Administration. The latest was Bureau of Land Management, Alaska smokejumper David Liston who was killed on 29 April 2000 while doing recertification parachute jumps.
The Clear Fire was started by a lightning strike on 21 June 6.5 miles northwest of Anderson. The wildfire has burned over 9,500 acres and was reported to be 7% contained on 27 June.
Photo courtesy of KTOO/Isaac Solomon/Division of Forestry.