Tasman pilot escapes serious injuries after chopper crash

A pilot has had a lucky escape after the helicopter he was flying crashed while fighting the Tasman fires this afternoon.

A Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said the chopper, which was carrying a monsoon bucket, when down just before 3pm. The pilot was the only person on board.

Acting Tasman district commander Inspector Zane Hooper said the chopper was found within the Eves Valley area.

He said the pilot was experienced and was located at the scene. He's been taken to Nelson Hospital with minor to moderate injuries and is being supported by his family.

Aircraft were temporarily stood down for a period after the crash but the Civil Aviation Authority has since given emergency services clearance to fly again.

Reid Helicopters CEO Toby Reid said it was on of his helicopters that was involved.

"The pilot of the flight jettisoned the monsoon bucket and made a may day call in accordance with standard operating procedures. The helicopter made a hard landing next to a road within the fire ground. The pilot was the sole occupant and received minor injuries."

He said fire crews were quickly on the scene and the company was now focusing on supporting the pilot.

Police are unable to comment any further on the circumstances around the crash at this stage.

Weather was reportedly fine at the time, with light north to northwesterlies.

Pilot Steve Askin was killed in 2017 while helping fight the Port Hills wildfires.

Askin's chopper, a AS350 Squirrel, crashed as he was returning to the dipping pond to refill a monsoon bucket.

The Port Hills fires, which broke out following a long hot summer, destroyed 9 homes and burnt through 2000 hectares of bush and farmland.

The Tasman fires started nearly two weeks ago after a spark from a tractor ignited tinder dry grass and scrub on Pigeon Valley Hill, about 30km south of Nelson.

The fire, which has covered more than 2000 hectares, has claimed one cottage and seen up to 3000 residents evacuated. Up to 150 firefighters and dozens of helicopters have been battling the blaze.

While the flames are largely out now there are still lots of hotspots underground which can flare up quickly.

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