MORENO VALLEY, Calif. — An F-16 fighter jet crashed into a warehouse west of March Air Reserve Base in Southern California on Thursday.
The pilot was able to walk after ejecting from the jet, according to reports from the scene. A dozen people were hosed off for exposure to debris before being taken to hospitals for evaluation and treatment of minor injuries, state fire Capt. Fernando Herrera said.
The crash occurred as the pilot was landing following a routine training mission, March Air Reserve Base Deputy Fire Chief Timothy Holliday said. Witnesses reported seeing the jet shudder and roll moments before it plummeted to the ground.
“The pilot was having hydraulic problems,” Holliday said. “He started losing control of the aircraft.”
The armed Fighting Falcon, a part of the 114th Fighter Wing based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, went down at about 3:45 p.m. and crashed into the See Water Inc. warehouse near Interstate 215.
The air base commander, Col. Melissa Coburn, declined to describe the aircraft’s armament.
Interstate 215, which runs between the base and the warehouse, was closed in both directions, backing up rush-hour traffic for miles.
The F-16 pancaked onto the roof of the 500,000-square-foot building, causing a fire that triggered the on-site sprinkler system, containing the flames, according to reports from the scene.
March is home to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, an Air Force Reserve component that utilizes mammoth C-17 transports, KC-135 refueling aircraft and C-130 transports. 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.
Television news showed a large hole in the roof and sprinklers on the inside of the building about 65 miles east of Los Angeles.
The jet's cockpit canopy was on a runway and a parachute had settled in a nearby field.
Maj. Perry Covington, a spokesman at March Air Reserve Base, was unsure why the jet was in California.
"The pilot did eject and is OK," Covington said.
Contributing: The Associated Press, City News Service
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: F-16 fighter jet crashes into warehouse near March Air Reserve Base in California