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California: F-16 fighter crashes into warehouse, pilot ejects

California: F-16 fighter crashes into warehouse, pilot ejects: According to the military officials, an F-16 fighter jet being flown in routine training exercises crashed into a warehouse just outside March Air Reserve Base in Southern California on Thursday, the pilot ejected and five people on the ground were reported injured. The cause of the crash was under investigation.

The extent of the injuries was unclear and the pilot was reportedly “transported to a local hospital for evaluation,” officials with the United States Air Force Reserve said in a release late Thursday. Earlier it was stated by officials that there were no reported injuries.

The officials said, ”The fighter jet was assigned to the 114th Fighter Wing, Souix Falls, South Dakota and was conducting a training mission for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).”

The Los Angeles Times, citing a base fire official, reported that the crash ignited a small fire, and a photo of the accident scene posted on local television station KCAL-TV showed a gaping hole in the roof of a large gray building.

The warplane went down at about 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time and slammed into a warehouse at the end of the base runway, base spokesman Major Perry Covington told Reuters by telephone.

He said, “The pilot did eject and the pilot is OK. I did not believe anyone was inside the warehouse when the crash occurred.”

Daniel Gallegos, a warehouse worker, said he’s used to hearing the sound of planes coming and going, but the noise just before the crash was deafening.

“Next thing I know I just hear this explosion and turn around to the back of the building, and I just seen a burst of flames and just the ceiling started falling through every part of the building,” he told KABC-TV. “I turned around, and my co-worker just told me to get, so I just made a run for it.”

The crash happened as the pilot was landing following a routine training mission, March Air Reserve Base Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Holliday said. “The pilot was having hydraulic problems,” Holliday said. “He started losing control of the aircraft.”

The jet’s cockpit canopy was on a runway, and a parachute had settled in a nearby field. Damage to the warehouse was relatively minor, and there was no major fire, which Holliday called “a miracle.”

Holliday said, “The F-16, assigned to the Air National Guard, was carrying standard armaments. It will be recovered once authorities make sure the weapons don’t pose a risk.”

The base is home to the Air Force Reserve Command’s Fourth Air Force Headquarters and various units of the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, California Air National Guard, and California Army National Guard.