Tags: air tanker | crashes | yosemite

Air Tanker Crashes in Yosemite, Killing the Pilot and Grounding Fleet

By    |   Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 12:20 PM

An air tanker used to fight a wildfire at Yosemite National Park crashed Tuesday, killing the pilot, and now California fire officials have grounded the entire fleet.

KTLA-TV reported that the air tanker crashed on a cliff while battling the fire Tuesday afternoon near the western entrance of the park.

"This afternoon contact was lost with one of our air tankers flying over a fire near Yosemite National Park," said a statement from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. "Emergency personnel are currently responding to the last known location of the aircraft. The air tanker was assigned to the Dog Rock Fire burning near Yosemite's Arch Rock."

The pilot's name has not been released pending notification of his family, The Associated Press reported.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Chris Michael told the AP that he witnessed the crashed while stopping traffic along State Route 140.

"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," he said. "It hit the steep side of the canyon wall. 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."

"It most definitely did disintegrate on impact," Michael continued. "It was nothing. I didn't see anything but small pieces."

Park officials told the San Francisco Chronicle that the Dog Rock Fire at Yosemite started Tuesday and quickly burned more than 130 acres.

The park evacuated about 50 people from the Foresta community and El Portal Road between the park boundary and the junction with Big Oak Flat Road was closed to traffic, according to the newspaper.

California fire officials have used planes to fight fires since the 1950s and they now have a fleet of more than 50 aircrafts, including helicopters and planes, which drop either water or retardant while others are used to drop off firefighters.

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An air tanker used to fight a wildfire at Yosemite National Park crashed Tuesday, killing the pilot, and now California fire officials have grounded the entire fleet.
air tanker, crashes, yosemite
331
2014-20-08
Wednesday, 08 Oct 2014 12:20 PM
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