Honor guard removes pilot from Dog Rock Fire crash site

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A somber day in Yosemite as crews remove the body of a Cal Fire pilot who died while fighting a wildfire. (KFSN)

A somber day in Yosemite as crews remove the body of a Cal Fire pilot who died while fighting a wildfire. Federal investigators are in the park trying to figure out what caused the firefighting plane to go down.

The crash happened Tuesday afternoon about a mile from the Highway 140 entrance to Yosemite National Park. Crews are still actively battling this fire and trying to protect about 60 homes in Foresta.

The pilot killed in the fatal airtanker crash has been identified as Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt, age 62, of San Jose. He was a 13 year veteran contract pilot for Cal Fire.

On Wednesday morning, there was a procession to bring the pilot's body from the crash site in Yosemite down Highway 140. An honor guard there for the transition from the Federal Park Service to State of California officials.

Cal Fire personnel stayed with his body at the crash site overnight. This morning the Deputy Chief Ranger for Yosemite described the difficult task search and rescue teams faced in getting to the wreckage last night. "The crash site was almost a quarter mile long so please understand because of the terrain and amount of debris, it was very difficult to get in there safely not only because the amount of wreckage and type of terrain, but also because there was active fire in the area," said Michael Sansbury, Search and Rescue, Deputy Chief Ranger.

All Cal Fire S-2T air tankers have now been grounded for inspections, but other aircraft are still working on this fire on Wednesday. There have been several helicopters dropping water and a large DC-10 based out of Castle Airport drop retardant. Crews are also working on the ground and planning to use fire to fight fire later today.

RAW VIDEO: Dog Rock Fire press conference

The plane was known as Cal Fire's S-2T "Tanker 81" -- and it was based in Hollister, California. The planes carry 1,200 gallons of retardant and they are typically flown with just a pilot as its crew. Cal Fire began using these tankers in 1996 when it purchased them from the Department of Defense and retrofitted them for California's fire fighting efforts.

As of late Wednesday morning fire is 210 acres with no containment, and the cause remains under investigation. The fire started right along Highway 140.

Related Topics:
cal fireyosemite national parkwildfireforest fireplane crashYosemite National Park
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