Chopper pilot first death in Spain fires

July 8, 2012 at 10:40 AM
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VALENCIA, Spain, July 8 (UPI) -- One man is dead and two others injured in separate helicopter crashes while attempting to extinguish a forest fire in Valencia, Spain, officials said.

Jose Agustin Nieva Gomez died Monday when the helicopter he was piloting crashed into a reservoir near where the fire began in Cortes de Pallas in the Ayora Valley, Spain's Center for Emergency Coordination said.

A gasoline spill seen on the surface of the reservoir led authorities to suspect a crash, ThinkSpain reported Sunday.

Shortly after the crash, a second helicopter went down injuring a pilot and co-pilot, El Pais reported Monday.

The 55-year-old pilot was fighting for his life, ThinkSpain said, while the 36-year-old co-pilot suffered from bruising and was in stable condition. Both helicopters were part of the Forest Fire Reinforcement Brigade.

Two forest fires along Spain's east coast broke out June 28 and July 1, respectively.

The Valencia fire was started by workers installing solar panels at a home. The Andillas fire in the Los Serranos district to the north of Valencia was started by a bonfire that got out of control, authorities said.

At least 900 people had been evacuated from their homes due to the fires, which authorities said have now been brought under control, ThinkSpain reported.

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