(PORTLAND) — A helicopter pilot died Monday while battling the White River Fire in Mount Hood National Forest, officials said Tuesday.

About 20 miles east of Portland, Oregon, the pilot was flying a Type 1 Kmax and conducting bucket drops in rough terrain at the time of the crash, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Suzanne Flory said in a statement. The identity of the pilot has yet to be released.

“The firefighting community is heartbroken to learn of this tragic loss and our condolences go out to the pilot’s family, friends and co-workers,” Flory added.
The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and USDA Forest Service air and ground resources responded immediately to the crash site, and an investigation into the cause of the accident is currently underway, according to Flory.

Caused by lightning on Aug. 17, The White River Fire has burned more than 1,200 acres and is 15% contained. Currently, more than 300 people are battling the inferno, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The White River Fire and other Oregon wildfires are burning alongside the state’s massive Indian Creek Fire, which was human-caused on Aug. 16, and has burned nearly 50,000 acres, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Fire season is picking up & we have #firefighters working hard to protect local communities & natural resources. Be especially careful when driving around fire activity or vehicles. We’re watching out for you so please watch out for us!

— Forest Service NW (@ForestServiceNW) August 22, 2020

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has extended an air quality advisory for potions of southern, central and easter Oregon because of wildfire smoke.

Wildfire smoke can irritate lungs, cause inflammation, affect immune system & make you more prone to lung infections, including the virus that cause #COVID19. Know how #wildfire smoke can affect you & your family & what you can do to protect yourselves.

— Forest Service NW (@ForestServiceNW) August 24, 2020

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