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Portugal: Private firefighting chopper crashes, pilot dies

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A pulp and paper company in Portugal says that the pilot of a private firefighting helicopter has died in a crash while trying to put out flames in a forest. Rui Pedro Batista, spokesman for The Navigator Company, says the accident took place Thursday afternoon near Valongo, a town some 20 kilometers (12 miles) inland from the northern coastal city of Porto.

Batista says he cannot confirm local media reports about the helicopter getting caught between high-tension power lines. The company has opened an investigation into the causes of the crash. The helicopter was part of a fleet run by Afocelca, a private firefighting company working for various Portuguese pulp producers, including The Navigator Company.

Forest fires are common in southern Europe during the parched summer months.

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