Cal Fire lifts grounding order on air tanker fleet

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Photo: Cal Fire

The state firefighting agency lifted an order grounding its fleet of air tankers Friday after investigators determined there was no evidence that mechanical problems let to a crash near Yosemite that killed the pilot earlier this week.

“We are comfortable to say that we don’t see anything that leads us to any mechanical issues,” Josh Cawthra, an NTSB investigator, told the Los Angeles Times.

The  S-2T tanker  crashed Tuesday near El Portal inside Yosemite. Geoffrey Hunt, a 13-year veteran, was making his second retardant drop of the day on the Dog Rock fire when the crash occurred.

Cawthra said the NTSB had concluded its onsite investigation, but will have to wait until the fire is put out to remove the wreckage. Investigators will interview witnesse and look at radio transmissions, radar data and video in hopes of determining why the plane went down.

Meanwhile, Cal Fire officials said normal flight operations  of the tanker fleet will be allowed to resume.

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