Crews respond to TEMSCO copter downed in wetlands after takeoff

Capital City Fire and Rescue personnel douse engine compartment fire

Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A Juneau helicopter tour for six cruise ship passengers went only 100 feet before the craft lost power Monday, and all escaped without injury in nearby wetlands, according to reports from the scene.

The helicopter took off at 12:05 p.m. and went down at 12:06 p.m., according to Tim McDonnell, a TEMSCO vice president in Juneau. He described it as a "soft landing" in the wetlands behind the base.

Capital City Fire and Rescue reported the helicopter lost power at about 100 feet. The department dispatched 28 firefighters to the scene and reported putting out a fire in the engine compartment.

"All I saw was smoke," McDonnell said. What caused the incident was still under investigation, he said before heading into a meeting with federal investigators. "Nobody was injured."

In addition to the pilot, the helicopter carried six passengers, all from the cruise ship Oosterdam, McDonnell said. The ship was scheduled to be in port from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday.

According to the fire department, two people were taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital for observation after the incident.

Rose Abello, vice president of public relations for the Holland America Line in Seattle, said all those involved in the incident were shopping and eating lunch not long after the accident. She couldn't identify them and didn't know where they were from, but she said none was hospitalized.

Jim Vuille, assistant manager of the Federal Aviation Administration's flight standards office at Juneau International Airport, said a report from his agency was not ready Monday.

The fire department's report Monday estimated damage to the helicopter at $500,000.

In a separate aviation incident Monday, 20 firefighters responded shortly after 9 a.m. to a report of a small jet coming into the airport with instruments showing it had an engine on fire.

According to fire department reports, the plane landed without incident.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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