A small plane crashed near the Ramona Airport in San Diego County Saturday morning after the pilot reported losing power to the aircraft, officials confirmed.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department said the aircraft went down just after 7:50 a.m. in a field off Rangeland and Highland roads, about 200 feet off the roadway, just west of the airport.
Cal Fire officials said flames engulfed the plane following the crash. Firefighters were able to quickly knock down the fire on the plane, preventing the flames from spreading to surrounding brush in the field.
Cal Fire and the California Highway Patrol confirmed two people inside the plane escaped the crash uninjured.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesperson Allen Kenitzer told NBC 7 the aircraft was a Vans RV-7A. He said the pilot reported the plane lost power shortly after departing from the airport.
The aircraft sustained substantial damage, Kenitzer said. The crash will be further investigated by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.
Ramona resident Nikki Bridges witnessed the aftermath as the aircraft went up in flames.
“When I saw the flames, I freaked out,” she told NBC 7. “What I saw was flames – bright orange, red, hot, hot flames. Black smoke started coming over.”
At that point, Bridges said she couldn’t tell that a plane was being consumed by the fire. Rather, she thought it was a brush fire that, under current dry conditions, might quickly spread.
“With everything going up with the fires up near L.A. and Malibu – we’re such a tinder dry box out here. Yesterday it was super windy, I just thought the whole grassland was going to go up.”
Bridges immediately thought that, if this was a brush fire, she and her pets – including cats, a dog, two pigs, five horses and a donkey – would have to evacuate.
“I’m just so relieved that the passengers are safe and relieved that we didn’t have to scramble [to evacuate],” she added.
The Ramona Airport is located along Montecito Road, about two miles west of Ramona’s central business district.