Pilot Dies Fighting Yosemite Wildfire

State grounds firefighting air tankers

Oct 8, 2014
Outside Magazine
plane crash fire yosemite pilot

Debris was scattered on Highway 140, and came close to hitting fire crews on the ground.    Dan Dawson/Flickr

A pilot dispatched Tuesday to fight a wildfire in Yosemite Valley perished after colliding with a canyon wall, reports the Los Angeles Times. The main wreckage was found perched on a 2,500-foot escarpment within a mile of the western park entrance.

The pilot was flying a Grumman S-2T, a retrofitted Navy aircraft that can deliver up to 1,200 gallons of fire retardant. According to the Associated Press, the last crash of a California air tanker was in 2001. The state has grounded its fleet until further notice.

The cause of the crash remains unknown. It was clear and not too windy at the time of the crash, a spokesman for the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told the Los Angeles Times.

The 130-acre Dog Rock fire, which broke out Tuesday afternoon, has kept Route 140 closed between the western boundary of Yosemite National Park and the junction of El Portal and Big Oak Flat Roads.