Air tanker crashes while fighting California wildfire

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YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — A Yosemite National Park spokesman says an air tanker fighting a wildfire near the park has crashed.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman says the plane crashed at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday within a mile of the park’s west entrance.

He had no further information on the condition of the plane or the pilot.

Gediman says park rangers are rushing to get to the scene and hope to reach it while daylight remains.

California fire officials say the airplane is an S-2T air tanker, which is flown by a single pilot and has no other crew members.

The plane was fighting a fire that has grown to about 130 acres and forced the evacuation of several dozen homes near the community of Foresta.

Emergency personnel were headed to the tanker’s last known location, Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told The Associated Press.

“We just don’t know the position of the aircraft or the condition of the pilot,” he said in a telephone interview.

He did not know the age of the aircraft or details on the pilot and the pilot’s experience in flying the aircraft.

“We’re still trying to determine all the vital details,” he said. “We have not been able to confirm anything via the radio with the pilot.”

It was unclear if the pilot was flying to or from the fire or was in the process of dropping retardant, Berlant said.

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