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S-2T Pilot Killed In CalFire Air Tanker Crash Near Yosemite National Park

October 8, 2014 - On Tuesday afternoon a fire broke out near Yosemite National Park in Northern California at Dog Rock on the El Portal Road between the park boundary and Arch Rock Entrance Station.

Around 2:45 PM the fire had spread to approximately 130 acres. Fire crews and aircraft were sent out to respond to the fire. The town of Foresta, which has about 60 homes was evacuated.

A U.S. Forest Service Marsh S-2F3AT Turbo Tracker air tanker (N449DF) that was provided to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) crashed into a canyon wall sending wreckage tumbling to the ground while fighting the fire.

The air tanker was manufactured in 2001 and capable of carrying 1,200 gallons of fire retardant. California Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Michael said "I heard a large explosion, I looked up on the steep canyon wall and saw aircraft debris was actually raining down the side of the mountain after the impact.


"It appeared from the direction he was going, he was trying to make a drop down the side of the canyon when he hit the canyon wall." Witnesses reported the aircraft disappeared into the smoke and then they heard a boom.

Alyssa Smith, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said first responders had hike through the rugged terrain and was able to locate the aircraft and its pilot. The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene, he was believed to be the only one onboard the air tanker.

CalFire spokeswoman, Janet Upton said the pilot was an employee with DynCorp and contracted out to CalFire. DynCorp International is a private military contractor that provides pilots and mechanics to fly and maintain Calfire's aircraft. The pilot was flying tanker No. 81 out of the Hollister Air Attack Base.

CalFire Director Chief Ken Pimlott said "This crash underscores just how inherently dangerous wildland firefighting is and the job is further compounded this year by extreme fire conditions." Pimlott also stated the crash site has been secured.

Update  - CalFire has released the pilot's name, he has be identified as Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt, 62, of San Jose. Hunt had been with Dyncorp International for 13 years.



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