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SEATTLE (AP) — A news helicopter crashed into the street and exploded into flames Tuesday near Seattle’s Space Needle, killing two people on board, badly injuring a man in a car and sending plumes of black smoke over the city during the morning commute.
The chopper was taking off from the KOMO-TV station when it went down on Broad Street and hit three vehicles, starting them on fire and spewing burning fuel down the street.
Kristopher Reynolds, a contractor working nearby, saw the wreck. He said the helicopter lifted about 5 feet and was about to clear a building when it tilted. It looked like it was trying to correct itself when it took a dive downward.
“Next thing I know, it went into a ball of flames,” he said.
When firefighters arrived, they found the helicopter, two cars and a pickup truck on fire, along with a huge cloud smoke, Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said.
“Not only were the cars on fire, the fuel running down the street was on fire,” he told reporters at the scene.
Firefighters stopped the burning fuel from entering the sewer.
A 37-year-old man in one of the cars managed to free himself and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.
He had burns on more than 50 percent of body, Moore said.