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Incident Name: 90 acre Mt Lowe brush fire 4 mi north of Altadena, CA, between Mt Lowe and Mt Brown, Angeles National Forest, CA; aka Mine Fire or Millard Fire
Date: September 26, 1960
Personnel: Frank William Druehl
Age: 36
Agency/Organization: A private company under contract with the US Forest Service
Position: aerial firefighter

Summary: On 9/26/60, FW "Bill" Druehl was dropping retardent on an inaccessible Angeles National Forest fire 4 miles north of Altadena, when his borate-dropping Grumman TBM tanker crashed into El Prieto Canyon, west of the fire. Druehl's body was found in the wreckage.

Photo credit: From Tom Janney's collection.


Photo Note from Tom: N9394H. This TBM was the first TBM ever tanked, owned by Hollywood flying legend Paul Mantz. Used as a test bed during the mid 50's Firescope program, this aircraft was lost in the incident.

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El Prieto Canyon west of the fire -- vicinity Brown Mt, 3600 ft, south slope


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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • Not in the NTSB database. NTSB Search Utility No records prior to 1961.
  • Aerial Tanker Pilot Killed in Canyon Crash

    9/27/1960 | pay-per-view article

    An aerial tanker on a borate-dropping mission to a brush fire north of Altadena crashed into a canyon yesterday, killing the pilot. ... Killed when his converted Navy torpedo bomber crashed into El Prieto Canyon west of the fire was William F Druehl of Chino.

  • California Death Index: Frank William "Bill" Druehl
  • from the website Aircraft Wrecks in Southern CA:
    • 09/28/60
    • TBM
    • #N9598C
    • Ran Out Of Gas And Crashed While Fighting The Mount Lowe Fire Above La Canada
    • Location: 34 13N 118 07W MARKED

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Media Articles and Reports





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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

Bill served on heavy bombers over Europe; he was shot down and captured in December 1944 and was a prisoner of war until the fall of Germany in April 1945.

He was a pilot and killed flying a tanker while fighting a forest fire in California.

TBM silhouette:

TBM shape TBM shape

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Contributors to this article: Gerald Meehan, Rick Messier, RJM, Tom Janney, Airtanker Pilots Memorial


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