New details involving San Diego Chinook fire released by Army

An MH-47 Chinook assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment prepares to take off, January 19, 2019, at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. Emerald Warrior/Trident is the largest joint special operations exercise where U.S. Special Operations Command forces train to respond to various threats across the spectrum of conflict. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Snider)

Andrew Dyer

The San Diego Union-Tribune

The U.S. Army special operations helicopter that caught fire last week at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado was an MH-47G Chinook, the Army said in a statement Thursday.

The service declined to specify the model of the helicopter last week. The four soldiers on board when the fire ignited were able to escape the aircraft uninjured, the Army said. NAS North Island fire crews extinguished the fire.

The helicopter is attached to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), which was in San Diego for training.

Col. Roger Waleski, the commander of the 160th SOAR, credited the crew with reacting quickly to the fire.

“We are proud of the quick reaction of our crew, which prevented injury and additional damage,” Waleski said in a statement. “And we are thankful for the assistance from NAS North Island officials and Naval Aviation units who have helped us in our recovery efforts.”

The dual-rotor helicopter had landed after routine flight operations when the fire began in the rear of the aircraft, the statement said. The cause of the fire has not been determined and is under investigation.

While Chinook helicopters date back to the Vietnam War, the special operations variant is “highly modified” for special operations, according to the command’s website.

The fire came amid a spate of crashes in Southern California involving Marine Corps and Navy aircraft. Those crashes remain under investigation.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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