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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press A wide area including Interstate 215 remained off limits Friday near the site where an F-16 fighter jet crashed in Southern California.

Saturday, May 18, 2019 1:00 am

Crashed F-16 fighter had live ammunition

Associated Press

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – An F-16 fighter jet that crashed through the roof of a Southern California warehouse was armed with live ammunition and authorities planned to dispose of its ordnance Friday, authorities said.

The Air National Guard jet was carrying a “standard armament” package, Col. Thomas McNamara, vice commander of the Air Force Reserve's 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March Air Reserve Base, said at a news conference.

The F-16 can carry bombs and missiles. McNamara didn't provide details of the ordnance but said the weaponry had been removed from the jet, which remained inside the warehouse.

The F-16 crashed Thursday afternoon when the pilot reported hydraulic problems and the pilot started losing control of the aircraft, authorities have said. The plane crashed into a commercial warehouse near the base, which is southeast of Los Angeles.

The pilot ejected safely before the crash and was in good condition, McNamara said. The pilot's name was not released.

There was no explosion and no serious injuries among workers at the business.

Three trauma patients remained hospitalized in stable condition and 10 others, including sheriff's deputies who entered the warehouse to search for possible victims, were treated for exposure to debris and released, authorities said.

Authorities cordoned off an area for three-quarters of a mile around the scene.

The crash occurred during a training mission, March Air Reserve Base Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Holliday said.

“The pilot was having hydraulic problems,” he said. “He started losing control of the aircraft.”

Holiday said it was a “miracle” the jet didn't cause a fire or explosion.

A warehouse worker said he heard a deafening noise before the jet smashed into the building about 65 miles  from Los Angeles.

“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,” Daniel Gallegos told KABC-TV. “I just made a run for it.”