The daughter of a veteran firefighting pilot said he "died a hero" when his air tanker crashed Tuesday while battling a wildfire near Yosemite National Park.
Geoffrey Craig Hunt was flying one of four planes being used in the initial attack on the Dog Rock fire, which as of Thursday was just 10% contained at 245 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The 62-year-old San Jose resident, who went by Craig, had been fighting wildfires throughout the state for 13 years.
"My dad died a hero," Hunt's daughter, Sarah Hunt Lauterbach, said in a statement. "There was not a day that went by that I didn't talk to my dad. He was my best friend."
Hunt — a contract pilot with DynCorp International, which operates Cal Fire's fleet of air tankers — was flying a Cal Fire S-2T fixed-wing tanker when he crashed Tuesday afternoon.
Because of the fire's location — on the outskirts of Yosemite in El Portal — visitors and firefighters alike saw the crash.
"We know wildland firefighting is an inherently dangerous job, but Craig made the ultimate sacrifice," Pimlott said.
Hunt is survived by his wife, Sally, whom he married in 1975, and two daughters.
While not fighting fires, Hunt worked as a chemistry teacher at UC Santa Cruz.
He served as a U.S. Navy P3 Pilot for nine years and was in the Naval Reserves for 20 years.
Times staff writer Diana Marcum contributed to this post.