(Photo: Los Angeles City Fire Department AW-139 seen at Van Nuys Airport in August)
A Los Angeles City Fire Department helicopter was damaged and the pilot was forced to land after an accident during the La Tuna brush fire Saturday, officials confirmed Thursday.
Eyewitnesses said the Agusta-Westland AW-139, similar to the one shown above, landed with a portion of its horizontal stabilizer missing.
The National Transportation Safety Board was said to be investigating, but the NTSB in Washinton, D.C. could not confirm it had received a report.
The Fire Department said in a statement:
"One of our helicopters made a precautionary landing on Saturday morning, September 2, during firefighting operations. Thankfully there were no injuries. The helicopter has been returned to its base at Van Nuys airport. The LAFD and NTSB are conducting investigations into the incident. The damage to the helicopter is still being assessed at this time."
Fire department officials did not mention the incident during several media briefings at the scene of the fire Saturday.
The incident removed from the Fire Department's fleet one of its larger water-dropping aircraft -- just weeks after the Department announced it had expanded its fleet with the purchase of an additional AW-139 at a cost of about $17-million.