The crash of a Cal Fire tanker plane on Tuesday afternoon has added to the tragedy of this year's wildfires in Yosemite National Park. The Grumman S-2T went down while fighting the Dog Rock fire, near Arch Rock, killing the pilot.

AvWeb reports that the plane was formerly classified as a S-2EG — a carrier-based anti submarine aircraft. Cal Fire Director Ken Pilmott said:

"This crash underscores just how inherently dangerous wildland firefighting is, and the job is further compounded this year by extreme fire conditions. We have secured the crash site and will be cooperating with the NTSB on their investigation."

Grumman S-2 in its former life, on an aircraft carrier (Rob Schleiffert / Flicker CC Commercial License.

The pilot was the only person on board the plane. Cal Fire owns 26 of the S-2s, which can haul up to 1,200 pounds of fire retardant. Cal Fire's planes were acquired in 1996 from the Department of Defense, and fit with newer, more efficient engines to make them more agile. The S-2 first flew in 1952, and a total of 1,284 were built. The U.S. Navy retired its last S-2 in 1976, but they have continued to serve other countries around the world.

Top image by Dan Dawson (Flickr, CC Commercial License)

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