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Trooper Rescues Firefighting Crew From Crashed Helicopter Moments Before Chopper Bursts Into Flames

Townsend, MT – A five-member Department of Natural Resources (DNRC) helicopter crew was rescued by a Montana trooper after their chopper crashed in front of her while they were fighting a wildland fire on Tuesday evening.

The helicopter was coming in for a landing when a surge of high winds caused it to crash and flip onto its side, sparking another fire, Montana Highway Patrol (MHP) Trooper Amanda Villa told KPVI.

Trooper Villa ran to the smoking wreckage and pulled the five crew members to safety with the help of a Good Samaritan and an unidentified Broadwater County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) deputy, KPVI reported.

The downed helicopter burst into flames moments later.

“I’m just glad that me and the deputy were right there when it happened and able to get everybody out quickly,” Trooper Villa told KPVI. “All things considered, it was a lot better than it could have been.”

The crew members were transported to St. Peter’s Health in Helena and the Billings Clinic Broadwater in Townsend for assessments.

Trooper Villa, a veteran of the Army Reserves, was featured by the MHP in March for Women’s History Month.

“I always wanted a career where I could help others, serve my community, and make a difference,” she said at the time.

She joined the MHP seven years ago.

The Deep Creek Canyon Fire had burned more than 4,640 acres as of Friday morning, according to InciWeb data.

The inferno was ignited on the afternoon of June 13, possibly after a falling tree landed on a powerline.

Approximately 60 homes were evacuated in the Grassy Mountain subdivision in Meagher County, and another 130 residents were evacuated from the Springdale Hutterite Colony on Tuesday, KPVI reported.

It is unclear how many structures have been destroyed by the blaze thus far.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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