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Lawrence L. Groff

Airtanker Pilot

Eight airtankers and three helicopters were working a 270-acre wildland fire south of Ukiah, California. The fire began near a suspected methamphetamine lab. Airtanker Pilots Groff and Stratte were operating air tankers carrying 800 gallons of fire retardant each. The two aircraft collided above the fire as one prepared to make a drop while the second was joining the rotation orbit of ready aircraft. Both pilots were killed and both aircraft were completely destroyed. Two men were charged with arson, murder, and drug production charges in relation to the origin of the fire. (The NTSB reports are available on-line at -- use NTSB Accident Numbers LAX01GA291A and LAX01GA291B)
photo of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial
Lawrence L. Groff was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.

Department information

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protect.
1416 9th Street
P.O. Box 944246
Sacramento, California 94244-2460

Chief: Andrea Tuttle, Director

Age: 55
Rank: Airtanker Pilot
Classification: Career
Incident date: August 27, 2001 18:35
Date of death: August 27, 2001
Cause of death: Struck By
Nature of death: Trauma
Activity type: Other
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Outdoor Property

Last updated: September 12, 2016

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