S-2T Air Tanker Crash Kills Pilot

Crash occurred during attempt to quell Yosemite fire.

Yosemite National Park Fire

Yosemite National Park Fire

Dog Rock Fire (Photo: Yosemite National Park)

The sole pilot aboard an S-2T died on Tuesday when the air tanker crashed during a firefighting mission at Yosemite National Park.

The pilot has been identified as 62-year-old Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt. The FAA said the airplane went down "under unknown circumstances," but a California Highway Patrol officer who witnessed the crash says the airplane hit the side of a canyon wall near the Arch Rock entrance. The crash occurred around 4:30 p.m., and the airplane reportedly exploded on impact.

Hunt, who worked for DynCorp International, was battling a fire that broke out earlier in the afternoon in the western portion of the national park. The airplane was one of more than two dozen models that Cal Fire purchased from the U.S. military and refurbished in the 1990s to support firefighting efforts in the state.

Cal Fire's current fleet of 22 S-2Ts, which can carry up to 1,200 gallons of retardant apiece, has been grounded in the wake of the crash until the aircraft can be cleared for service.

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