Firefighting Helicopter Crashes in Argentina

by Matthew Memrick
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Two crew members died when a firefighting helicopter crashed in the Patagonia region of Argentina on Wednesday.

The government-contracted helicopter, a Bell 412, fell near Quillen, a lake in the Neuquen province. From the opposite direction, it’s almost a stone’s throw from the Chilean border. The location is over 18 hours by car from Buenos Aires.

The two onboard, a pilot and a mechanic, were killed, according to the website Fire Aviation.

According to the local newspaper La Nacion, 200 fire brigades and a dozen aircraft fighting fires in the Nahuel Huapi National Park and other parts of Patagonia. The area is known for its forests, lakes, and mountains. So far, 9,900 acres have burned.

Federal authorities declared a fire emergency in the area.

“We are facing a scenario that may tend to recur over time, that is to say, a period of prolonged droughts and of running dry seasons throughout the year,” the emergency declaration said, adding the situation was “most likely a result of climate change.”

Hot Weather For Argentina’s Patagonia Region

Recently, scorching weather has hit that part of Argentina.

According to the Merco Press, this year has set a new historical record for high temperatures and low rainfall. The National Meteorological Service said it was the hottest and driest for the area since 1961.

The Río Negro news source said Patagonia experienced higher than average temperatures this year, except for the beginning of 2021.

 “The year ended, on average, with values between 1 and 2 ° C higher than a typical year. April, September, and December were characterized by being the hottest and the months with the highest temperature records in this region,” a spokesperson quoted by Río Negro said.

The area had a significant rain deficit as well. The news source said that, while the Andean regions get 500 millimeters (average U.S. rainfall is 767 mm), the Patagonia area rainfall totals didn’t exceed 200 mm.

This year in Argentina is shaping up to be among the top five or sixth hottest years on record since 1961. The weather service also noted this is the 11th straight year of increasing temperatures. 

Chinese Helicopter Crashed Earlier In 2021

According to Wildfire Today, four died in a Chinese firefighting helicopter crash in May. The aircraft crashed while trying to refill its water bucket. 

The crash happened in southwestern China off Erhai Lake. The government-owned helicopter, a Z-8X, tried to help firefighters on the ground.

An early report had two pilots and two crew members killed in the crash. A 16-hour search involving 16 ships and more than 490 rescuers ended the following day.

A video captured the crash, showing the aircraft starting to rotate slowly or spin while a couple of hundred feet above the lake. As the spinning increased and the helicopter dropped toward the ground, an explosion sent the aircraft straight into the water. 

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