YOSEMITE (KCBS)— The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say they think a Cal Fire air tanker that crashed while fighting a fire in Yosemite last week may have struck a tree with its wing according to preliminary findings.
62-year-old veteran pilot Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt died in the crash when Tanker 8-1 went down while conducting an aerial response to combat the Dog Rock Fire.
The NTSB said the crew of the controller plane coordinating the response, reported that the tanker may have struck a tree with its wing, knocking the wing off the plane and sent it crashing into a steep ravine, where it burst into flames.
Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said it's too soon to say for sure.
"We know that firefighting is a very dangerous job as well as aerial firefighting. It's not like any other flying that goes on commercially. There are inherent dangers, but we continue to work with NTSB as they continue their full investigation on what happened," Berlant said.
The crews of the other two planes fighting the fire said while there was smoke in the air—their late afternoon visibility was good.
The investigation continues, but the NTSB has cleared Cal Fire to resume its air operations, saying there's nothing mechanically wrong with its fleet of aircraft.
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