A military helicopter crashed in central California’s Sequoia National Forest on Wednesday, killing at least four people, authorities said.
Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Gutsch said the helicopter, from the China Lake Naval Weapons Center, “basically burned to the ground” after crashing near the Kern River in a remote section of the southern Sierra.
Five Navy personnel were aboard the Huey, but the fifth person’s fate was not known.
“Four crew members have been confirmed dead, with one remaining unaccounted for at this time,” the center said in a news release.
Gutsch said a citizen saw the helicopter on the ground just before noon with smoke coming out of the aircraft.
“Then it burst into flames,” he said.
The helicopter was fully engulfed in flames when California forestry, sheriff’s deputies and U.S. forest personnel arrived after the crash was reported at 12:28 p.m.