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Firefighter Killed As He Dangles From Chopper

June 4, 1995

ATHABASCA, Alberta (AP) _ A member of a crack firefighting team was killed after the helicopter from which he was dangling swung him into a burning stand of timber, authorities said Saturday.

Harro Van Bockel, 30, died in a forest fire near Pelican Settlement, about 150 miles northeast of Edmonton, Alberta’s capital.

The fire was one of nearly 250 that have wiped out huge tracts of tinder-dry forest across western Canada. Two in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan have burned more than 271,000 acres.

The accident occurred when Van Bockel and a partner were lowered from the helicopter by ropes to battle a forest fire Friday.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said flames began to rise around the dangling firefighters and the chopper. When the pilot tried to pull away, the two swung into burning trees.

The other firefighter suffered minor injuries.

Van Bockel was part of a crew trained to lower themselves by rope from helicopters into densely-wooded areas to fight fires.

Thundershowers on Saturday allowed firefighters to control some of the fires.

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