Pilot Killed in Helicopter Crash at Arizona Wildfire Identified

Helicopter down near the Polles Fire


Smoke from the Polles Fire on July 7, 2020. (InciWeb, USFS photo)

Wildland Firefighter


The pilot killed in a helicopter crash at Arizona’s Polles Fire on Tuesday has been identified.

Brian Boatman, 73, was conducting firefighting operations for the Polles Fire near Payson when helicopter crashed. ABC15 reported that Boatman was flying supplies into the area when the crash occurred.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey ordered flags at all state buildings lowered to half-staff on July 8 in honor of Boatman.

“This tragic loss is a reminder of the ever-present dangers faced by those battling wildfires,” said Governor Ducey in a statement. “As a helicopter pilot, Bryan Boatman was carrying out a service to the people of Arizona alongside the men and women fighting the Polles Fire. He performed his duty with honor and bravery, and it will be remembered as such by our state. My deepest condolences go out to Bryan’s family and loved ones. Our prayers are with them and all of Arizona’s wildland firefighters working day and night to keep us safe. In honor of Bryan’s life, I’ve ordered flags at all state buildings be lowered to half-staff.”

The wildfire has burned over 570 acres since it began on July 3.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the cause of the crash.


GILA COUNTY, Arizona – The Payson Roundup and the White Mountain Independent have reported that a helicopter has crashed while working on an Arizona wildfire.

Both outlets state that the Gila County Sheriff’s Office said a helicopter working on the Polles Fire crashed in the area of the fire at approximately 12:20 p.m.

InciWeb: Polles Fire Updates

Gila County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Dennis Newman said the helicopter only had the pilot on board. The condition of the pilot is unknown.

The Polles Fire began as a lightning strike on July 3 in the Mazatzal Wilderness, approximately 11 miles west of Payson. The wildfire has burned at least 580 acres.


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