Wildland Pilot Helps Firefighter Escape Oregon Blaze

A U.S. Forest Service helicopter pilot helped a firefighter out of a jam last week as the two battled the Pole Creek Fire in Oregon.

The firefighter was able to escape by climbing into a water bucket being carried by the chopper after being trapped by the flames, according to an after-incident safety report obtained by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

An account by the pilot was posted to a government website used to identify and correct safety issues in the aviation industry.

The report doesn't identify either man, but gives detailed insight into what occurred.

The pilot wrote that he had already completed a number of drops when the firefighter -- who was helping direct the helicopter -- moved to the center of a fire line.

Since the fire was moving slowly, he thought he could safely make his way around the flames, but winds shifted, quickly worsening the situation.

The firefighter sought safety in an area already burned by the fire, but that ground suddenly reignited.

With no options left, the pilot lowered the bucked and directed the firefighter to climb inside in order to escape the fast-moving flames.

U.S. Forest Service officials told Oregon Public Broadcasting that it is currently investigating the incident.

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