The helicopter was taking off from the KOMO-TV station when it went down on Broad Street, near the Seattle Center, and hit three vehicles, igniting them on fire and spewing burning fuel down the street.
The two people on board the aircraft were killed and another man was severely injured.
“The injured man managed to free himself from one of the cars and was taken to Harborview Medical Center with burns on more than 50 percent of body,” the Seattle Fire Department said.
Kristopher Reynolds, a contractor working nearby, witnessed the tragic wreck. He said “the helicopter lifted about 5 feet and was about to clear a building when it tilted. It looked like it was trying to correct itself when it took dive downward.’’
“When firefighters arrived, they found the helicopter, two cars and a pickup truck on fire, along with a huge cloud smoke,” Kyle Moore, fire department spokesman, said.
“Not only were the cars on fire, the fuel running down the street was on fire,” he told reporters at the scene.
KOMO-TV identified the victims as pilot Gary Pfitzner and camerman Bill Strothman.
“We mourn the loss of a couple of our co-workers today,” KOMO-TV anchor Dan Lewis said on the air. “It’s so difficult for us to look at this scene, of the wreckage down there.”
On the street, reporter Denise Whitaker said, “It is definitely a tragic scene down here. It is a difficult time for all of us this morning.”
“[The helicopter] was departing from the downtown helipad when it crashed and burned under unknown circumstances,” he said.