Ramona, CA Firefighting Planes Collide, Jun 1995



Ramona, Calif. (AP) - Two planes helping to fight a wildfire collided Wednesday and crashed into a house, killing three people and heavily damaging two homes.
A twin-engine plane owned by the U.S. Forest Service appeared to clip the tail of a four-engine air tanker the agency was using on contract, witnesses said.
"I said to my daughter, 'Look at that little plane chasing the big plane,'" Anna Allen told radio station KFMB-AM. "Then they hit" and the tanker went down.
The crash about 30 miles northeast of San Diego occurred near the Ramona Airport, where the planes were approaching for landing.
It wasn't clear whether the dead were in the tanker or on the ground.
The tanker demolished the home it crashed into and caught an adjacent, vacant house on fire. Roman Macias whose family lived in the demolished home, said his relatives were safe. It wasn't immediately known whether anybody was home at the time.
"God was looking over us," said Macias, 17.
A large piece of fuselage lay on top of a bicycle in the yard of a nearby home.
The tanker was a privately owned DC-4 under contract to the Forest Service. The two-person crew were not Forest Service employees, said Rick Willis, a Forest Service spokesman at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
The other plane, a Beach Barron, was owned by the Forest Service.
The planes were helping to douse a 5,000-acre brush fire near Julian in the Anza Borrego desert.

Standard Speaker Hazleton Pennsylvania 1995-06-22

Killed in the crash were:
GARY COCKRELL, Pilot of the tanker, of Paso Robles.
LISA NETSCH, Co-Pilot of the tanker, of Hemet.
MICHAEL SMITH, Pilot of the spotter plane, of Hesperia.