HOUSTON — The Forest Service firefighter killed in a helicopter crash Wednesday in the Sam Houston National Forest has been identified.
Daniel J. Laird, 41, was helping with a controlled burn when the chopper went down. He died at the scene.
Laird was a helitack captain from the Tahoe National Forest in California. He is survived by his wife and daughter.
“Our hearts and condolences go out to Daniel, his family, friends, and co-workers,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “We’re very proud of his service and commitment to the agency and our nation. Tragedies of this nature serve as a reminder of the honorable work and sacrifices made by women and men like Daniel."
Another Forest Service firefighter, 43-year-old Kelly Callahen, was injured.
The pilot, 50-year-old Morgan Kozloski, was also injured. They remain hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.
The FAA and NTSB experts are investigating the crash near FM 149 and Bethel Road in Montgomery County.
Bulldozers and heavy equipment were brought in to clear the area to help investigators better figure out what happened.
There were several controlled burns in the forest Wednesday and the helicopter crew was helping firefighters on the ground by keeping a watch on the fires.
Warning signs were posted for thick smoke, which could have contributed to the crash.