A mosquito control helicopter crashed in a Maplewood neighborhood on Wednesday morning, killing the pilot, authorities said.
The helicopter belonged to Scott's Helicopter Services, which contracts with the Metropolitan Mosquito Control District. The district confirmed the helicopter was in the area to release a soil bacterium that kills mosquito larvae.
It was flying near Century Avenue, a few miles north of Interstate 94 when witnesses said they heard it coming near.
The Maplewood Police Department is assisting the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board with the investigation, said police spokeswoman Kerry Crotty. Acting Maplewood Police Chief Dave Kvam confirmed the pilot did not survive the crash, which happened shortly after 8 a.m.
Scott's Helicopter Services had another mosquito control chopper crash in 2007 in Andover and in Lakeville in 2011. The pilots survived all of those incidents. A pilot doing agricultural spraying for the company was killed in a 2010 crash.
NTSB officials said they expected to release more information about the crash later Wednesday.
Pictures from the scene show the helicopter crashed into the side of a garage, and witnesses described a large fire.
Rod Andrew Wilson lives nearby and said he heard the helicopter sputter.
"Me and my son were in the sun room with the windows open and we heard the helicopter have a little problem, and then we heard a whump and then a big whump and then a couple seconds after that a black cloud of smoke," he said.
Neighbors grabbed garden hoses to fight flames after the crash until firefighters arrived, said Tambra Thomas, who witnessed the crash.
Thomas said she had just woken up when she heard a helicopter in close range. She went to the window and saw it struggling to climb in the air.
"Then it did a nose dive. Hit the ground," Thomas said.
Thomas also shot this video: