ALPINE, Calif. – Two pilots were killed in a Marine helicopter crash in a remote section of the Cleveland National Forest in eastern San Diego County, authorities said Wednesday.
The Super Cobra helicopter from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing crashed shortly before midnight Tuesday, killing the only two people on board, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar said in a written statement.
The crash set off a one- to two-acre fire, said Captain Daryll Pina of the California Department of Forestry.
Authorities initially received 911 calls reporting a wildfire with explosions, but on the long drive to the scene fire commanders received a report from the air station that a helicopter with live ordnance was missing, Pina said.
When they arrived about 45 minutes later fire crews waited for the fire to burn itself out before approaching the scene for fear of more explosions, Pina said.
He said the crash was in an old fuel break with very little vegetation in the forest north of Interstate 8 near Kitchen Creek Road.
A Defense Department accident investigation team was on the scene, Pina said.