It is with sad and heavy hearts that we share the news a pilot supporting the Clear Fire outside Anderson, AK, died in a helicopter crash. The pilot and sole occupant was Douglas Ritchie, 56, of Wasilla, AK. Wildland firefighters and aviators are a close community and are in support of the family, friends, and co-workers during this tragic time.
The crash occurred Sunday evening, June 26, 2022, while landing at the Anderson Airport’s helipad near milepost 280 of the Parks Highway. The Division of Forestry & Fire Protection (DOF) had contracted the 1960 Bell 204B “Huey” helicopter operated by Northern Pioneer Helicopters. The division is assisting the Alaska State Troopers and National Transportation Safety Board who are conducting an investigation.
There are 26 staffed fires across Alaska with nearly 700 firefighters assigned. A high pressure system has settled over the state bringing with it hot, dry and windy conditions. This weather pattern is forecast to continue through the week and be followed by a series of thunderstorms.