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2 killed in Seattle news helicopter crash

SEATTLE (WKRC) -- Two people are dead after a news helicopter crashed in Seattle and burst into flames. A third person was critically injured.

The helicopter, being used by KOMO TV, exploded on impact near the Space Needle. Two cars and a pickup truck were hit. The people inside two of the vehicles were able to escape without injury. The driver of a third vehicle was badly burned. Witnesses say he ran from his car with his clothes on fire. Officers at the scene help put out the flames. He is in the hospital with burns to more than 50 percent of his body.

[Click here for more pictures from the crash]

Pilot Gary Fitzner and long-time KOMO photographer Bill Strothman were killed. "We all know him as one of the best storytellers to have ever graced the halls of KOMO," said news anchor and reporter Molly Shen of Strothman.

The helicopter crashed as it was taking off from the helipad of the roof of a building across the street from the Space Needle at 7:40 a.m. Witness, Brian Cruz, said he saw the chopper in trouble in the air near the helipad. "It looked like it got hung up on some cables, and before you know it - boom! - it dropped dropped to the street," he said.

The two dead at the scene remained in the copter wreckage until investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board arrived. Out of respect, police are keeping the Space Needle and the Monorail closed.

(Information from KOMO TV)

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