On a patch of dirt at the boundary of Yosemite National Park on Wednesday, the body of the pilot who died when his air tanker crashed during the firefight the day before was transferred from the care of the park to his own agency.
Geoffrey Craig Hunt -- a private contractor for California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection -- crashed just inside the park's west entrance while fighting the Dog Rock fire.
At the spot known locally as "park line," the flag-draped gurney was carried from an ambulance to a waiting black SUV.
An honor guard of Cal Fire officials and park rangers lined each side of Highway 140 as the rescue team members stayed inside their truck, heads down.
"Those guys up there had to keep taking care of business," said Gary Wuchner, Yosemite's fire spokesman. "But don't think for a second that this moment isn't on their minds."
The crash happened during the initial attack on the fire. Three other firefighting aircraft were also in the air.
But on Tuesday, in the hour before the fleet was grounded, the very pilots who witnessed the crash kept fighting the fire.
"It was incredible -- it's incredible what they do, always," he said as he straightened and took his place in line with the rest of the honor guard.