Two pilots, including a 41-year-old man from Post Falls, died after their helicopter crashed responding to the Moose Fire burning near Salmon, Idaho.
Thomas Hayes, of Post Falls, and Jared Bird, of Anchorage, Alaska, were experienced pilots and both served in the military, according to a news release from Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s office.
Little ordered U.S. and state of Idaho flags to be flown at half-staff in the state until the day following the final memorial service. The flags flown over the Capitol building in honor of the dead pilots will be presented to the families, the release said.
“Our brave firefighters face extremely challenging conditions head on to protect lives, property, and the land,” Little said in the statement. “Idahoans are praying for the loved ones and colleagues of these firefighters as we grieve this tremendous loss. This tragedy will be deeply felt by the families and by the wildland firefighting community.”
Rebecca Hovey, Hayes’ mother, said Hayes has three children and a girlfriend, who has two children Hayes viewed as his own, according to KHQ.
Hayes was a pilot for many years, Hovey told KHQ. He grew up in Orofino and has family in St. Maries and Lewiston.
“We will miss him so badly, but he died doing what he loved,” Covey told KHQ. “He loved his children and his family.”
The crash is being investigated in coordination with the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office, according to the U.S. Forest Service – Salmon-Challis National Forest Facebook page.
The fire was burning 23,620 acres of grass, brush and timber as of Friday morning, the Facebook post said. It was 0% contained.
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