3 killed when helicopter hits power line in Northern California


Three people were killed Tuesday when a helicopter contracted by Pacific Gas & Electric struck one of the utility’s power lines and crashed into a hillside, igniting a grass fire and knocking out electricity to thousands of customers, officials said.

The crash of the Bell 206 helicopter was reported about 1:30 p.m. along Interstate 80, midway between the cities of Fairfield and Vacaville.

The aircraft was a third-party helicopter contracted by PG&E, said utility spokeswoman Brandi Merlo. She didn’t say what kind of work the crew was doing.


The helicopter came into contact with a transmission line before the crash, Merlo said.

The Solano County Sheriff’s Office said three people aboard were killed, KCRA-TV reported. They weren’t immediately identified.

The helicopter caught fire after crashing, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.

A firetruck responding to the blaze rolled over, sending three firefighters to the hospital with minor injuries, said CalFire spokesman Will Powers. He said the fire burned about 7 acres.

Some 38,000 PG&E customers lost power and there was no estimate for when it would be restored, Merlo said.

The FAA and National Transportation and Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash, Gregor said.