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Federal Investigators At Scene Of Yosemite Air Tanker Crash

Photo / Craig Rose

Photographer Craig Rose took this shot of Cal Fire Air Tanker 81 during the Stevens Fire.

Photo / Craig Rose

Cal Fire officials say Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators are on the scene of Tuesday's air tanker crash in Yosemite National Park.

Cal Fire grounded its 23 Grumman air tankers after Geoffrey “Craig” Hunt, age 62, of San Jose, was killed while flying over the Dog Rock Fire in the park.

Cal Fire's fixed-wing aircraft pilots are contracted through a private company, Dyncorp International.

“We continue to mourn the tragic loss of Craig,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “We know wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, but Craig made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Lynne Tolmachoff with Cal Fire said Hunt worked for the company and on Cal Fire incidents for 13 years.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Craig’s family during this difficult time,” said Jeff Cavarra, program director for DynCorp International.

Tolmachoff said the safety grounding will continue at least through Wednesday and is normal procedure after a crash.

"We're going to have to wait and see what the NTSB and investigators are able to come up with to possibly determine the cause of the crash,” said Tolmachoff. “And, if there's any mechanical issues we want to get those taken care of before we put our aircraft back into service." 

She said the planes are 50 to 60 years old.

"They are basically torn down and rebuilt every winter by our Aviation Management Unit," said Tolmachoff. "They're very well taken care of planes and we have an excellent safety and mechanical record."

Tolmachoff said the last time an air tanker crashed was "about 13 years ago, when two air tankers collided fighting a fire in Mendocino County."

 wildfiredog rock fire

Ed Joyce

Former All Things Considered Anchor & Reporter

Ed Joyce is a former reporter and All Things Considered news anchor at Capital Public Radio. Ed is a veteran journalist with experience in a variety of news positions across all media platforms, including radio, television, web and print.   Read Full Bio