CALABASAS (CBSLA) – A small, vintage plane caught fire after crashing on the 101 Freeway in Agoura Hills Tuesday afternoon – snarling traffic for hours.
The plane landed sometime before 2 p.m. near the center divider on northbound Liberty Canyon Road, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Video from the scene showed smoke and flames billowing hundreds of feet into the air.
Witnesses posted videos of the remarkable landing in the middle of the busy freeway.
The pilot – who was the sole occupant – escaped the plane unhurt, the fire department said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane is an SNJ-5 or AT-6 – a World War II training aircraft. Van Nuys Airport confirmed it belongs to the Condor Squadron Vintage Flying Club.
The pilot, who’s in his 40s, is an experienced pilot for Alaska Airlines.
A third-grade teacher at nearby Lupin Hills Elementary School snapped a photo of the plane before it went down. She was at the school’s playground with her students when she first heard the plane sputtering and knew it was in trouble. It was so close, she said, she was worried it might crash on or near the school.
Meanwhile, the crash tied up traffic on the 101 in both directions for hours. All lanes reopened just after 10:30 p.m.
Some commuters had to exit after running out of gas.
“It was like insane, like worst traffic I’ve ever seen on the 101 going north,” commuter Tyler Owens said.
Responding firefighters were able to quickly extinguish a blaze sparked by the crash, but the plane later caught fire again.
“I tried to get some gas and then as I was driving here I called my mom and said, ‘I made a big mistake, I should’ve just stayed home,” said driver Dontae Mowry.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.