Engine failure possible cause of helicopter crash

Transportation Safety Board investigating crashes

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is searching for causes of the two aircraft crashes that occurred near the end of July.

Investigators say it's too early in the process to determine the cause of the Convair air tanker crash that occurred near Lytton on Saturday, July 31. The air tanker went down while fighting a fire on Jackass Mountain, starting a forest fire of its own.

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Bill Yearwood, Pacific Regional Manager for the TSB, said investigators finished examining the site and have removed the wreckage. Next will be a methodical examination of the broken pieces to find a cause of the crash. According to Yearwood "There is no focus at this point."

Yearwood said there is a focus on the engine components in the case of the Transwest Helicopter that crashed Thursday, July 29 while bucketing on the Jade Mountain Fire in the Yalakom Valley. TSB investigators are travelling to Prince Edward Island to test these components to determine if they were responsible for the accident.

Meanwhile, the two pilots of that helicopter are back flying again. Ernst Maas, owner of Transwest Helicopters, said the co-pilot "didn't have a scratch" while the pilot had a sore shoulder. Both men were back bucketing on the fire a week after the crash.

Although the cause of the accident is unknown, Maas said it was not pilot error. "Pilot skill saved the day," he said.

The Jade Mountain Fire is still active and is 75 per cent contained. The evacuation alert was rescinded on August 10 however road access is still restricted.

Kayla Pepper, Fire Information Officer for the Kamloops Fire Center, reports crews made good progress establishing hand lines down from the Jade Peak. There were some controlled burns occurring from the guard lines into the fire, however according the Pepper, the dense smoke in the Lillooet area is coming from the fires burning in the Cariboo, not the Jade Mountain fire.

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