Pilot dies in Northwest Territories helicopter crash during wildfire

Pilot died fighting wildfire, according to employer

Pilot dies in Northwest Territories helicopter crash during wildfire

A pilot died in a helicopter crash in Northwest Territories on Friday, according to the pilot’s employer.

Tom Frith passed away while battling wildfire near Fort Good Hope, “a testament to his unwavering courage and dedication,” said Great Slave Helicopters (GSH) in a Facebook post. The helicopter involved in the incident was a Bell Textron Inc. B212 helicopter, operated by GSH.

“He was a beacon of light, beloved by all who had the privilege of knowing him,” said the employer in the post.

“Our heartfelt condolences to Tom’s wife, children, parents, brothers and all extended family and friends in Yellowknife and Australia. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. May you find solace in the love and strength Tom shared with us all.”

Fort Good Hope Chief Collin Pierrot noted that the incident happened while they were meeting to plan out next steps to fight the wildfire, according to CBC.

"It was a hard day for everybody. The morale of everybody was gone," Pierrot said in the report. "We just pulled back and for everybody to absorb what happened. It was a hard day.

"I'm still pushing along here with the group of firefighters we have at hand," he added.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has deployed a team of investigators into the site of the incident.

Investigators accessed the crash site on Sunday and have started collecting data and conducting interviews at GSH, CBC reported.

Wellness supports available to firefighters

Mike Westwick, wildfire information officer of Northwest Territories, said that, following the incident, their focus will be on their “team’s wellness”.

“The ripples of these events spread far and wide in the firefighting community in the NWT, Canada and beyond, given the close and interwoven personal connections formed over many years. Our priority above all else is our team’s wellness.

“Counselling is available to members of our wildfire management team to help them process this incident,” he said.

The government has also ensured that “any staff or contractors, regardless of which worksite they were at across the NWT, who needed time off from work were given that opportunity”. 

“We will continue to support the contractor and investigators in their work to understand exactly what happened,” said Westwick.