Investigators have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed after picking up firefighters in a Northern California forest, killing nine.

National Transportation Safety Board member Kitty Higgins said Friday that the recorder was in "better condition than we had hoped." She says it's being sent to NTSB's laboratory in Washington for analysis.

Higgins says witnesses have offered consistent accounts of what they saw when the Sikorsky S-61N went down Tuesday night in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Witnesses told investigators that the helicopter was moving more slowly than normal after lift-off and struck a tree before crashing to the ground and catching fire.

Authorities hope to finish recovering the remains of the crash victims Friday.