Small plane crashes, sparks brush fire near El Capitan Reservoir in San Diego County

(Los Angeles Times)

A small plane crashed at the base of a remote hill near El Capitan Reservoir in San Diego County on Saturday, apparently killing those onboard as no survivors were found, authorities said.

The crash sparked a brush fire that had grown to about 20 acres shortly after nightfall.

Officials were not able to confirm what aircraft was down, but a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said the agency got a report of an Extra EA 300 plane with two people onboard missing from a flight from Gillespie Field in El Cajon.

Sheriff’s and California Highway Patrol officials said 911 callers in the Lakeside area reported the possible crash east of El Monte Road about 4:20 p.m.


Some callers said they didn’t see the crash, but heard what they thought was an impact, then saw a fire.

Deputies headed that way and a sheriff’s helicopter scanned the area, finding the fire but no confirmation of a plane crash, sheriff’s Lt. Mario Zermeno said.

Authorities said they couldn’t get close to verify the possible wreckage while air crews were dropping retardant and water on the fire.

About 5:20 p.m., a Cal Fire air tanker crew working on the blaze reported seeing some type of debris in the area, Zermeno said. It was about 7 p.m. before the debris was confirmed to be that of a plane, with few parts identifiable.


U.S. Forest Service fire crews worked the blaze on the ground, as it was within the boundaries of the Cleveland National Forest east of the reservoir. The area is known as Four Corners.

The fire burned about 20 acres, forest service spokeswoman Wende Cornelius said.

Footage from News 8 showed the fire at the base of steep, rugged hills, with air tankers and helicopters dropping water and fire retardant on the flames while it was still daylight

Repard writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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