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Three Killed in Air Tanker Crash

June 18, 2002

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WALKER, Calif. (AP) _ An air tanker fighting a blaze near Yosemite National Park caught fire Monday and crashed in this Northern California resort town, killing all three crew members and just missing a mechanic’s shop, authorities and witnesses said.

A Reno, Nev., television station captured the scene on videotape as the wings broke off the C-130 transport plane, the fiery fuselage rolled left and spiraled nose first into the ground in a ball of flame.

All three crew members were killed in the crash ``under unknown circumstances after making a drop″ of retardant, said Jerry Johnston, operations officer with the Federal Aviation Administration in Hawthorne, Calif.

``It was destroyed by impact and by fire,″ he said. Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board were on the way to the scene.

It was unclear whether anyone on the ground was injured, though medical crews were on the way, said Laura Williams, spokeswoman for the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center in Minden, Nev.

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