First responders shut down part of the I-215 highway in Riverside County, California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, Thursday afternoon after an F-16 fighter jet crashed through the roof of a warehouse across the road from the March Air Reserve Base. The pilot is said to have ejected.
As of 8:01 p.m. eastern time, NBC Los Angeles was reporting that the pilot had been transported to a hospital. By 9:00 p.m. est The New York Times had posted that “the pilot was not hurt and there were no immediate reports of injuries on the ground, said Maj. Perry Covington, director of public affairs at the base.”
The NYT also added that the F-16 belonged to the Air National Guard.
At 11:15 p.m. est, The Los Angeles Times confirmed that “a total of 12 people, including the pilot, were taken to the hospital to be treated... No one suffered life-threatening injuries,” citing a Cal Fire official.
The F-16 apparently experienced a “hydraulics failure” during a training exercise that was serious enough to force the pilot to eject. The plane then sailed into the warehouse, where it made one hell of a mess, as somebody inside shared on Facebook:
The highway was cleared as the jet was thought to have been carrying live ordinance, as in potentially explosive weapons, which authorities want to keep the public well clear of.
An NBC reporter on the scene told studio anchors that first responders wanted people “4,000 feet” from the crash site, but Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Holliday seemed to think that the general public was clear of danger as authorities had secured the perimeter.
The warehouse that the jet apparently crashed through the roof has markings for the company See Water, Inc., though there could have been a few businesses based in a shop that size. It is right across the highway from the March Air Reserve Base, and it looks like the pilot might have ejected over the runway.
A CBS anchor appears to have gotten a photo from inside the building, probably before the haz-mat barrier went up. I think I can see a little piece of military airplane poking out from this shot of rubble:
It’s amazing that nobody died, though I’m sure the Air National Guard will be investigating while their multi-million dollar airplane malfunctioned so catastrophically.