Incident Name: Ciervo brush fire on the Morongo Indian Reservation that was flaring up, fanned by hot Santa Ana winds
Personnel: 2 lives lost
Agency/Organization: Denny Conner was a US Forest Service contract tanker pilot, assigned to BDF, ordered up to CDF RRU fire in Millard Canyon.
Position: aerial firefighters
Denny Lydell Conner, 44, Forest Service or CDF pilot out of of Ramona, CA
Richard Mervin Ray, 50, co-pilot of Chico, CA
On June 8, 1979, Pilot Denny Connor and Co-pilot Dick Ray were killed when the right wing of their C-119 airtanker separated during a retardant drop and plunged to earth in Millard Canyon. They were making a drop over the Ciervo brush fire (near Banning CA) on the Morongo Indian Reservation.
Photo of Hawkins & Powers Tanker 133, compliments of Tom Janney.
Millard Canyon on the Morongo Indian Reservation, near Banning CA
- Concise Information from the AAP and research by the WLF Staff:
- 2 killed: Denny Conner & Dick Ray
- Operator: Hawkins & Powers
- Type: Fairchild C-119
- Location: Millard Canyon near Riverside, CA
- FAA Registration # unknown
- NTSB # no record
- There is no record in the NTSB database
- There is no record in the Forest Service Fatal Aviation Accident History, possibly because it was CDF jurisdiction
- Article naming the crash victims:
- California Death Index: Dennis Lydell Conner | Richard Mervin Ray
- Firefighters win battle with grassland blazes
6/9/1979 | Lodi News Sentinel archive
... The blaze, called the Ciervo fire, was started Thursday (6/7/1979) by the hot exhaust from a pickup truck in grass and light brush in 100-degree weather. The truck driver was unable to extinguish the fire by turning up dirt with a shovel, and 50 mile-an-hour winds whipped it up quickly. Fast moving flames eventually surrounded seven shepherds who saved their lives by crawling under a tarpaulin. An aerial tanker bombed them with retardant chemicals and the fire burned over them, leaving them hot and frightened but uninjured...
- US Forest Service Heroes Memorial List: Denny Conner | Dick Ray
Contributors to this article: Tom Janney, John Miller
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