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Firefighting pilot dies in crash; fire grows to 600+ acres

Firefighting pilot dies in crash; fire grows to 600+acres
Posted at 5:27 PM, Jul 10, 2024

HELENA - The pilot of a firefighting plane died after the plane crashed northeast of Helena on Wednesday.

The crash happened at about 12:15 p.m. in the Hauser Lake area of the Missouri River below the dam.

Firefighting Plane Crash
The red light in the middle right on the shoreline shows the location of Wednesday's crash.

According to Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton, the plane was contracted to the U.S. Forest Service and was scooping water to assist with firefighting efforts at the Horse Gulch Fire.

The pilot was a 45-year-old woman; her name has not yet been released. She was the only person aboard the plane.

Search crews recovered her body on Wednesday afternoon.

Dutton says the FAA and the NTSB have been notified and will lead the investigation.


The Horse Gulch Fire was reported at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday and is centered about five miles south of York, and two miles north of Canyon Ferry.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire has burned an estimated 600 acres, according to Sheriff Dutton, and there are about 100 people assigned to fight the fire.

At about 3:30 p.m., residents in the Cave Gulch and Magpie Gulch areas were ordered to evacuate.

There have been no reported injuries or damaged structures directly caused by the fire.

The exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but is believed to be "human-caused."

The American Red Cross is opening a temporary evacuation center at around 6 p.m. at Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church (3580 North Benton Street) in Helena for people impacted by the fire burning. The facility will provide water, snacks, and updated information. All Red Cross services are free.

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