FOREST GROVE, Ore. --
Two men died when a helicopter crashed and then exploded Sunday in a farming community near Forest Grove, deputies said.
Washington County sheriff's deputies said the R22 helicopter, which was registered to Hillsboro Aviation, was used to train student pilots. Deputies first received a 911 call at 1:09 p.m. from someone reporting a loud explosion and then flames and smoke near the Fern Hill area.
"I was picking tomatoes over here in the field when I heard the noise," said Manuel Sosa, who saw the helicopter crash. "I just turned around and I saw the thing going down."
Sgt. Bob Ray said the crash was about one mile away from any paved road, which made it difficult for rescuers to reach the site. Deputies were forced to drive through crops and around irrigation ditches. They reached the crash scene about 20 minutes after the initial report and found the helicopter fully engulfed in flames, Ray said.
Crews extinguished the fire. The bodies of Douglas Doty, the 34-year-old flight instructor from Beaverton, and Thomas Hagner, the 32-year-old student from Hillsboro, were found in the wreckage.
It's not clear who had control of the helicopter at the time of the crash.
Mike Buscho, who works near the Hillsboro Airport, said the deaths of the pilot and student will affect neighbors and his co-workers.
"I've always seen them land perfectly," Buscho said. "It's very hard cause I see all these pilots come and go and just to hear about them dying, it's hard."
The cause of the crash is unknown. The Federal Aviation Administration has launched an investigation.
Two Men Die In Helicopter Crash
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