Two people are dead and one person is in serious condition after a news helicopter for KOMO-TV crashed outside its station near the Seattle Space Needle.
The station says the copter, "Air Four," was apparently headed out for routine coverage from the rooftop Tuesday morning when it possibly hit the side of the building and went down at about 7:40 this morning, hitting several vehicles on Broad Street.
The copter and cars exploded in flames and at least two casualties were reported.
The Seattle Fire Department said those who died were passengers onboard the helicopter.
Besides the casualties, 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.
Witnesses said the man could be seen running from one car with his clothing on fire, and was extinguished by officers at the scene. He was rushed to the hospital with burns on more than 50 percent of his body, according to KOMO.
KOMO has confirmed on its Twitter feed that one of the dead is camera man Bill Strothman, the other is Pilot Gary Pfitzner.
People in the area reported seeing a huge cloud of smoke as firefighters and police responded.
KOMO Radio's Brian Calvert joined Ed on the KFBK Morning News live from Seattle:
Calvert said the only thing left of the chopper was about the last 10 feet of the tail and the rest of it is destroyed.
Eyewitnesses say the helicopter came down from the roof very fast and was spinning.
KING5 TV says the helicopter was a "joint-services" chopper being used by both KOMO and KING 5 News.
An investigation into the cause of the crash is under way.
Photos: Helicopter Crash Near Seattle Space Needle
Stay tuned to NewsRadio KFBK and kfbk.com for updates on this developing story.
2 DOAs at helicopter crash scene near space needle. pic.twitter.com/JwhBs2nYUF— Seattle Fire Dept (@SeattleFire) March 18, 2014
Medics transporting an approx 37 yo male to HMC in critical condition self extricated from car pic.twitter.com/hhVAX0qmbs— Seattle Fire Dept (@SeattleFire) March 18, 2014
KOMO-TV in Seattle's news helicopter has crashed on top of cars near the Space Needle. Not clear how many are hurt. pic.twitter.com/1QWgFkE7Cm— CBSDenver (@CBSDenver) March 18, 2014