PHOENIX - The Chief of the Pine-Strawberry Fire District has confirmed that the pilot onboard a helicopter that crashed while battling the Polles Fire is dead.
Via a statement released by a Pine-Strawberry Fire District spokesperson, Chief Gary Morris said the helicopter crashed outside the fire lines for the Polles Fire. The helicopter was on fire, and other air attack resources were brought in to extinguish the blaze.
Pilot identified during news conference
During a news conference, Gila County Sheriff Adam Shepherd identified the pilot as 37-year-old Bryan Boatman, who worked with Airwest, a company based in Glendale.
The pilot's body has been recovered, according to Sheriff Shepherd, and has been taken to the medical examiner's office. Boatman leaves behind a wife and an 8-year-old child.
A procession was held on July 10 to escort Boatman's body from the Florence Medical Examiner's Office to the Heritage Funeral Chapel in Peoria.
According to earlier statements by FAA officials, the Bell UH-1H helicopter crashed 10 miles west of Payson, under unknown circumstances. The helicopter was not carrying any passengers at the time.
"The FAA and NTSB will investigate, and the NTSB will determine the probable cause of the accident," read a portion of the statement.
As of July 15, the Polles Fire has burned 628 acres of land and is 92% contained. The fire began about 11 miles west of Payson and was caused by lightning on July 3, according to fire officials. Fire crews are reportedly being challenged by hot and dry conditions in the area.
Flags to fly at half-staff, Gov. Ducey declares
On Tuesday night, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered flags to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on July 8 to honor Boatman.