Emergency crews say a pilot is dead after his helicopter crashed in a rural area of Whitchurch-Stouffville on Tuesday afternoon.

Whitchurch-Stouffville Fire Chief Richard Renaud said they were called at 2 p.m. Tuesday for reports of a helicopter that had lost contact with Buttonville Airport.

Renaud said they located the helicopter in a field north of Preston Lake, south of St. John’s Sideroad, at 2:55 p.m.

The lone occupant of the chopper, the male pilot, had been ejected from the wreckage.

“York EMS was on scene and attempted to treat the patient,” Renaud said. “Unfortunately he was pronounced dead at the scene.”

York Regional Police Const. Laura Nicolle says firefighters contacted them for help at 2:55 p.m., after they started to search for a helicopter that had lost contact with Buttonville Airport in Markham.

A portion of the wreckage caught fire after impact and Renaud said firefighters extinguished the flames.

Nicolle said there were reports the helicopter encountered some sort of mechanical difficulty before the crash. Renaud said he had no information about what led to the crash.

Warden Avenue was closed St. John’s Sideroad and Aurora Road to allow for an investigation.

The helicopter’s owner, Essential Helicopters, told CTV News Toronto they were aware that “one of our aircraft and one of our senior pilots were involved in a crash.”

They said they were cooperating with federal aviation authorities.

The Transportation Safety Board said it had dispatched a team of investigators to the crash site.