APPLE VALLEY (CBSLA.com) — An airplane crash at Apple Valley Airport on Sunday killed two people, the Apple Valley Fire Protection District said.
Fire crews were working at 2:30 p.m. to extinguish the flames, and all traffic at the airport was halted. The airport is near Victorville, in San Bernardino County.
The Fire District said the plane was an L-39 jet capable of going 600 mph.
KCAL9’s Rebecca Ferriter reported from the crash scene Sunday night and said the aircraft exploded shortly after taking off.
Witness said the small jet got about 50 feet off the ground when it exploded and left a trail of debris.
“There was about 100 feet of flames, a line of flames behind the aircraft,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Aviation crew chief Deputy Carlos Quezada.
Quezada was in a hanger, just starting his shift when he said he heard a large blast.
“A pilot grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran out towards the aircraft,” he said.
The pilot and passenger were both killed.
The Coroner has not officially released the names of the victims pending notification of their next of kin.
Officials are looking at possible mechanical failure as a cause of the crash. The FAA is still on scene trying to determine the exact cause.
Regardless of the cause, those who witnessed it were definitely shaken up.
It’s a tragic event due to the fact it’s close to Christmas. There are two fatalities, so there are two possible different families who are going to be missing their relatives,” said Quezada.
The airport is expected to remain closed until about 2 p.m. Monday.