Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fatal accident occurred April 18, 2018 at Nevada County Airport (KGOO), Grass Valley, California

NEVADA COUNTY -- Flight operations at the Nevada County Airport continued uninterrupted after a deadly fire at Sierra Mountain Aviation located right next to the runway.

It started at the beginning of the workday at Sierra Mountain Aviation’s maintenance hangar. There were three airplanes inside.

The fire call came in as a rescue and flames had subsided by the time fire crews arrived.

"The fire sprinklers had activated and we did have to rescue one person, who unfortunately is deceased," Nevada County Consolidated Fire District Fire Marshal Terry McMahon said.

The fire sprinklers, along with a fire wall that split the building, saved the business next door. It was able to resume partial operations with just smoke damage.
But it was the smoke that may very well have been deadly.

"Fiberglass and the upholsteries and the things that they use in them, the smoke was dark and was down low to the ground," McMahon said. "Very toxic."

The victim is 65-year-old John Pichitino, a longtime pilot, flight instructor and mechanic at the airport. Word spread quickly among the tightly knit flying community at the airport.

"People are really getting emotional because he was a well-known person around here and touched a lot of people’s lives," airport manager Lee Ocker said.

In a stroke of irony, the last fire at the airport was in 1994 in another hangar not a hundred yards from Wednesday's fire. It also killed a pilot.

Pilot and flight instructor Ken Joyce knew both victims, adding to the sense of tragedy.

"Married with a wife and one kid and just unfortunate thing that smoke got to him before anybody could get to him," Joyce said.

A female office worker was also treated for smoke inhalation and was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Meanwhile, the investigation continues into what may have caused the fire.

Story and video ➤

One person died and another was taken to a hospital following a Wednesday morning fire in a hangar at the Nevada County Airport near Grass Valley.

Josh Sunde, battalion chief with the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, said a call was received at 8:36 a.m. reporting a fire in a hangar with people trapped inside. A second alarm was immediately issued and crews arrived to find smoke coming from the building.

Two people were able to exit the hangar but reported that one person was still inside. Sunde said firefighters found a man and were able to get him out of the building. They immediately began CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, Sunde said.

The man’s name has not been released.

A woman, who was one of people who made it out on her own, suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to a hospital, he said.

Sunde said the hangar was part of a business at the airport and three airplanes were inside when the fire started. People in nearby buildings reported hearing a “boom” from an apparent explosion just before the fire, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Firefighters, aided by sprinklers in the hangar, were able to knock down flames within 20 to 30 minutes after they arrived.

Original article can be found here ➤

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