SEATTLE (AP) UPDATE 4:40PM
A federal official says witnesses reported hearing unusual noises from a KOMO-TV news helicopter before it crashed Tuesday, killing two people on board and injuring a third on the ground.
The National Transportation Safety Board's Dennis Hogenson says investigators are examining all possibilities as they look for what caused the crash. He says witnesses also reported seeing the aircraft rotate before it hit the ground.
Hogenson says investigators are working to document the scene and clear the wreckage. A preliminary report is expected in five days, followed by a fuller report with a probable cause in up to a year.
Officials will be looking at mechanical, environmental, pilot and other issues as they investigate the crash.
A Seattle TV station has identified the two people killed in a news helicopter crash near the Space Needle.
The fiery wreck happened Tuesday morning as the KOMO-TV helicopter took off from the station. The chopper went down on Broad Street and hit three vehicles, starting them on fire and spewing burning fuel down the street.
The fire department says a 38-year-old man in one of the vehicles was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition.
Hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg says the man suffered burns on up to 20 percent of his body and likely will require surgery.
KOMO said on the air that the pilot of the helicopter was Gary Pfitzner. The other man killed was Bill Strothman, a former longtime KOMO photographer who was working for the helicopter leasing company.
-- UPDATE 11:10AM
Fire spokesman: 2 dead in Seattle news helicopter crash were on board aircraft.
UPDATE 10:30 AM
Two people were killed when a news helicopter for KOMO-TV crashed outside its station near the Seattle Space Needle, sending clouds of black smoke over the city during the morning rush hour.
The Seattle Fire Department said in addition to the fatalities, a 37-year-old man who managed to free himself from a car at the accident scene was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. No other details were immediately available.
The station says the copter was apparently lifting off from its rooftop Tuesday morning when it possibly hit the side of the building and went down, hitting several vehicles on Broad Street.
The copter and cars exploded in flames.
Plumes of black smoke rose from the crash scene as rescue vehicles converged on the area.
A news helicopter for KOMO-TV has crashed outside its station near the Seattle Space Needle.
The station says the copter was apparently coming in for a landing on its rooftop Tuesday morning when it possibly hit the side of the building and went down, hitting several vehicles on Broad Street.
The copter and cars exploded in flames and casualties were reported.
People in the area reported seeing a huge cloud of smoke as firefighters and police responded.
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