YOSEMITE – This evening emergency personnel were able to access the crash site of a CAL FIRE airtanker that went down earlier today near Yosemite National Park, and determined that the pilot on board has died.
The CAL FIRE airtanker (Tanker 81) based out of the Hollister Air Attack Base had been fighting the Dog Rock Fire near El Portal when officials lost contact with the aircraft late Tuesday afternoon.
Cal Fire has indicated that the pilot’s family requested they withhold release of the pilot’s name until all immediate family can be notified.
“This crash underscores just how inherently dangerous wildland firefighting is, and the job is further compounded this year by extreme fire conditions,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE director. “We have secured the crash site and will be cooperating with the NTSB on their investigation.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot’s family during this difficult time,” said Jeff Cavarra, program director for DynCorp International.
(airtanker in photo similar to one that crashed – photo courtesy of Cal Fire.)