A Cal Fire patch. Courtesy FEMA

A helicopter pilot killed in a crash while fighting a wildfire near Fresno was a 52-year-old former high school football coach from Southern California, it was reported Thursday.

Mike Fournier was piloting a Bell UH-1 helicopter, contracted to perform water drops over a brushfire in Central California, when the airship crashed around 10 a.m. Wednesday in Coalinga, an hour southwest of Fresno, NBC7 reported.

The helicopter was about 11 miles south of New Coalinga Municipal Airport in an area that was still burning Thursday, according to CalFire. As of Tuesday night, the blaze, known as the “Hills Fire,” had burned roughly 1,500 acres and was 35% contained.

The cause of the crash was under investigation.

Fournier was a former television news pilot for a station in San Diego and recently flew helicopters to help with repair work for SoCal Edison, NBC7 reported. He was also a former high school football coach in Covina, about 22 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page, which had raised nearly $17,500 of its $100,000 goal as of 9 a.m. Thursday.

The GoFundMe page can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rr8my8- remembering-mike-fournier.

–City News Service

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