Update as of 2:15 a.m. EDT: Photographer Bill Strothman and helicopter pilot Gary Pfitzner were killed in the helicopter crash on Tuesday morning, KOMO News reported. Seattle resident Richard Newman, 38, was admitted to a hospital's intensive care unit with burns covering up to 20 percent of his body and is reportedly in serious condition, the report added, citing a hospital spokesperson.
The news chopper crashed on Broad Street, only a few feet away from the city's iconic Space Needle, and exploded into a fireball on impact, according to KOMO News. Strothman had worked for the news channel for many years before retiring to become a freelancer, the report said, adding that the pilot, Pfitzner, was employed by Helicopters Inc., which operates and leases choppers used by KOMO.
KOMO reported, citing witnesses, that the helicopter crashed while taking off from a helipad on the roof of Fisher Plaza, across from the Space Needle, at about 7:40 a.m. local time (10:40 a.m. EDT).
This is a developing story. More information will be added as it becomes available.
Update 1:59 p.m. EDT: KOMO-TV has identified the victims as Bill Strothman, a contractor and former staff photographer for KOMO and Gary Pfitzner, also a contractor.
Update: 12:56 p.m. EDT: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is now investigating the KOMO-TV helicopter crash.
NTSB is investigating today’s accident in Seattle involving a news helicopter.
â€” NTSB (@NTSB) March 18, 2014
Update 12:51 p.m. EDT: CBS News posted video of crash aftermath on YouTube.
Correction (12:39 p.m. EDT): An earlier version of this story stated that the helicopter crashed while attempting to land. The helicopter crashed shortly after attemping to take off.
On Tuesday morning, at least two people died after a Seattle TV station's news helicopter crashed right outside the station building, located across from Fisher Plaza, home to Seattle’s Space Needle.
The helicopter was attempting to take off from the KOMO-TV station before its crash and explosion, KOMO-TV told CBS News.
â€” CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 18, 2014
The crash damaged several vehicles in its vicinity on Broad Street and injured at least one person in a car, according to the Seattle Times.
According to KOMO-TV, the fire was extinguished within a half hour of the crash.
Several bystanders in the area of the crash captured images of the burning wreckage of the copter with smoke and shared their photos on Twitter and other social media sites following the crash.
The names of the victims involved in the KOMO-TV helicopter crash have not been released as yet.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 18, 2014
Firemen putting out flames from the helicopter crash in Seattle this morning. pic.twitter.com/7x0524gRMB
â€” Janet Shen (@JanetShn) March 18, 2014
â€” 11Alive News (@11AliveNews) March 18, 2014
â€” WEAR ABC 3 (@weartv) March 18, 2014
Sad day in Seattle. News helicopter crash. What I saw from I-5. pic.twitter.com/FQRvNh9pKi
â€” Marc Vassallo (@_MarcVassallo) March 18, 2014
â€” AJAM Live (@ajamlive) March 18, 2014