Helicopter crash kills pilot battling Polles Fire near Payson

Jul 7, 2020, 5:22 PM | Updated: 9:56 pm

PHOENIX — A pilot working to help suppress the Polles Fire near Payson has died after his helicopter crashed Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

During a press conference Tuesday, night, Gila County Sheriff Adam Shepherd identified the deceased as 37-year-old Bryan Boatman.

His remains were recovered and are en route to a medical examiner’s office.

Boatman is survived by his wife and 8-year-old child.

According to authorities, the crash occurred at 12:22 p.m. while Boatman was working to supply firefighters on the ground with equipment.

Boatman had been employed by Glendale-based Airwest Helicopters.

Tuesday evening, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced he had ordered flags at all state buildings lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday.

“This tragic loss is a reminder of the ever-present dangers faced by those battling wildfires,” Ducey said in the release.

“As a helicopter pilot, Bryan Boatman was carrying out a service to the people of Arizona alongside the men and women fighting the Polles Fire. He performed his duty with honor and bravery, and it will be remembered as such by our state.”

Around 4 p.m. Pine-Strawberry Fire District firefighter Stacy Figueroa posted online that Chief Gary Morris had confirmed the death of the pilot.

“The helicopter crash was just north of the fire, outside the fire lines,” Figueroa said.

“They did have to bring in other air attack to put it out. There was only one person on the helicopter. Sadly he didn’t make it. His family has already arrived in Payson.”

She added that the deceased pilot was not local but did belong to a family of firefighters, including his father who had retired from an unnamed Valley department.

According to Federal Aviation Administration Communications Manager Ian Gregor, the helicopter was a UH-1H model and went down about 10 miles west of Payson.

Gregor added the FAA and National Transportation Board will investigate the crash and the NTSB will try to determine the cause of the crash.

The lightning-caused wildfire started Friday and grown to 580 acres by Tuesday morning, according to InciWeb.

The fire has been burning within the remote Mazatzal Wilderness’ rugged terrain that is only accessible by helicopter, authorities said.

Four hotshot crews were airlifted Monday into the area of the wildfire to aid suppression efforts.

The Polles Fire currently poses zero threats to the nearby communities of Payson or Pine-Strawberry, but authorities are encouraging residents to be familiar with the state’s Ready-Set-Go evacuation program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pexels Photo)...

Scholarship rewarding good grades offered to eligible Arizona Primavera Online students

Some students attending Primavera Online high school can soon receive scholarships for their good grades through a merit-based opportunity, the school announced last month. 
18 hours ago
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)...
Danny Shapiro

Justice Department files lawsuit against Arizona over legislation stiffening citizenship proof to vote

The Justice Department on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the state of Arizona over legislation signed in March that requires voters to show proof of citizenship when casting a presidential ballot in person or by mail.
18 hours ago
(Phoenix Police Department Photo)...

Phoenix police asking for public’s help to locate vehicle from weekend shooting

The Phoenix Police Department is asking for the public's assistance to help find a vehicle driven by suspects allegedly involved in a fatal shooting over the weekend.
18 hours ago
(City of Mesa Photo)...
SuElen Rivera

Renovated viewing area opens at Falcon Field Airport in Mesa

Visitors at the Falcon Field Airport in Mesa can now observe aircraft through the renovated viewing area next to the terminal building.
18 hours ago
(Phoenix Fire Department Photo)...

Valley firefighters called to over a dozen fires overnight

Firefighters in at least five Valley cities responded to more than a dozen fires starting in the evening of Fourth of July and leading into the morning, authorities said.
18 hours ago
(City of Chandler Photo)...
SuElen Rivera

Chandler grants construction company $5.8M to rebuild city’s busiest fire station

The Chandler City Council on Wednesday approved nearly $5.8 million in funding for a construction company to rebuild the city's busiest fire station. 
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Helicopter crash kills pilot battling Polles Fire near Payson