Two people were confirmed killed Thursday evening after a helicopter crashed in a field near a cluster of homes in the northeast metro city of Lino Lakes, according to the Anoka County sheriff's office.

The helicopter came down in a field off Main Street and Sunset Avenue at about 5:30 p.m., prompting several calls to 911, said Anoka County sheriff's Cmdr. Paul Sommer.

"There is not a lot I can tell you about the crash scene, but there's a large fireball," he said Thursday night at the scene. "We cannot identify much. It's basically charred-up debris."

More information will be released Friday morning.

No one on the ground was hurt, and Sommer expressed relief that the crash happened in an area away from residences.

Witnesses said they saw the helicopter flying, heard a pop, saw the rotary blade stop turning, then saw the helicopter drop from the sky. Smoke billowed following the crash.

In an email to the Star Tribune, Elizabeth Isham Cory, public affairs officer for the FAA, said that her agency and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

Authorities asked residents to call Lino Lakes police at 763-427-1212 if they find any unusual objects in their yards that might be debris from the helicopter. Do not pick up or move the objects, they cautioned.

It was the second helicopter crash in the region in three weeks. Last month, three people were injured when a North Medical Center helicopter went down on the east side of Lake Winona en route to the airport in Alexandria, Minn.

Karen Zamora • 612-673-4647 Twitter: @KarenAnelZamora