CAA investigate fatal Working on Fire helicopter crash

The pilot of the chopper died when the aircraft went down during firefighting efforts in Vermaaklikheid near Riversdale on Tuesday.

A general view of smoke from a fire in Vermaaklikheid, Western Cape. Picture: @wo_fire/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officials are probing a Working on Fire helicopter crash in the Southern Cape.

Sixty-five-year-old Nico Heyns died while battling a blaze in Vermaaklikheid outside Riversdale in the Southern Cape earlier on Tuesday.

Aerial support in the form of two helicopters was brought in to assist in firefighting efforts.

The blaze erupted over the weekend.

The Hessequa Municipality has confirmed seven homes and multiple structures have been destroyed.

“One of our helicopters has been involved in an accident in the Overberg region. At this point in time, we have no information in terms of the cause of the accident and the CAA is en route, as we’re going to the sight as well and we’ll be keeping the public informed,” says Kishugu Aviation Chairperson Trevor Abrahams.

At the same time, a preliminary investigation into the crash shows the pilot lost control of the aircraft.

Officials say no other occupants were in the chopper at the time of the incident.

Rescue workers had to remove the victim’s body quickly before it was engulfed by the flames.

Meanwhile, firefighters are still battling flames in the area that broke out on Sunday afternoon.

“The fire has jumped and changed direction due to the wind change. We are protecting structures at the moment and then we’ll have a plan going forward during the night. Right now, we’re in an absolute structure-protection mode, trying to save houses a far as we can,” says Reinhardt Geldenhuys, the chief fire officer at Overberg District Municipality.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)