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Incident Name:  1,100 acre fire in Nevada County near the historic gold rush community of North San Juan
Date:  6/29/76
Personnel:  William W. Sears, hometown Ukiah, CA
Age:  31
Agency/Organization:  Sis-Q Flying Service, Santa Rosa, CA under contract with CDF (now CAL FIRE)
Position: Pilot

Summary:
On June 29, 1976 Bill Sears -- the pilot of CDF (now CAL FIRE) Tanker 94 -- lost lost his life while flying a fire in Nevada County near the historic gold-mining community of North San Juan. The aircraft was completely destroyed in the fatal accident.

T-24 became T-94 in 1974 prior to the accident T-24 became T-94 in 1974 prior to the accident

Photo of T-94 and its sister ship when it was Tanker 24 two years previous to 1976. "Another CDF BC" who contributed the photo says: I believe it was renumbered sometime after the 1974 season to Tanker 94 and Tanker 26 was renumbered to Tanker 96. (It may have had something to do with the original twenty series numbers were assigned to the contractor (in this case Sis-Q) and later renumbered to numbers assigned to CDF?

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The Community of North San Juan (if anyone has better lat/longs for the nearby fire in 1976, please send them in.) near Nevada City, CA

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Concise Information from a TheySaidIt contributor, the AAP and WLF Staff research:
  • News in the middle of California firefights; announcement of pilot's name

    Bill Sears Bill Sears

    Bill Sears named Bill Sears named

  • There is no NTSB information on this incident; use the NTSB Lookup Utiliy.
  • Comments from a contributor: This was before the NTSB started investigating CAL FIRE airtanker crashes which may explain why there is little if any information of the accident. I’ve included a photo of it and its sister ship when it was Tanker 24 two years previous. Can’t recall exactly, but I believe it was renumbered sometime after the 1974 season to Tanker 94 and Tanker 26 was renumbered to Tanker 96. It may have had something to do with the original twenty series numbers were assigned to the contractor (in this case Sis-Q) and later renumbered to numbers assigned to then CDF.
  • not listed on the USFA Memorial Database
T-94 tail section following the accident T-94 tail section following the accident

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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

 

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Contributors to this article: "Another CDF BC", Walt Darran document from airtanker.org, Zac Delwiche

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