The pilot of a single-person airtanker who was killed when his plane crashed while fighting a rapidly spreading northern California wildfire was identified Wednesday as Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt, 62, of San Jose, a 13-year veteran pilot of Dyncorp International under contract with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Crews found Hunt's plane Tuesday after it disappeared while flying over the Dog Rock Fire near the Arch Rock in Yosemite National Park.
"We know wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, but Craig made the ultimate sacrifice," Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott said.
The S-2T tanker went down about 4:26 p.m. (7:26 p.m. ET), less than two hours after the fire started. It rapidly grew to 130 acres in just a couple of hours, forcing the evacuation of about 60 homes in the nearby community of Foresta, CalFire said. The fire grew to 210 acres Wednesday, but all S2 tankers remained grounded as part of standard safety protocols after the crash.
— M. Alex Johnson