View from inside a warehouse in Riverside where an F-16 fighter jet crashed. (Photo: Jeff Schoffstall)
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (FOX 11) - An F-16 fighter jet crashed into a warehouse just off March Air Reserve Base in the 22200 block of Opportunity Way in Riverside County Thursday afternoon.
Cal Fire crews hurried to get anybody that was inside the building at the time of the crash out. Twelve people suffered minor injuries and were treated on scene for exposure to debris from the crash and decontaminated before being taken to a local hospital, said Cal Fire Capt. Fernando Herrera.
The crash was reported at about 3:30 p.m. The pilot ejected from the plane and parachuted onto the base, according to officials. It's unclear if the pilot suffered any injuries in the incident but officials say the pilot was medically evaluated at the hospital.
The pilot was the only person inside the plane at the time of the crash and base officials say the plane may have experienced a "possible hydraulic failure."
Multiple emergency and law enforcement agencies are on scene investigating the incident.
The immediate area is closed including northbound and southbound 215 freeway from Cactus Avenue to Harley Knox Boulevard, according to the California Highway Patrol. Officials also expanded the evacuation area to 4,000 feet from the impact zone Thursday afternoon.
By Friday morning, officials said the evacuation zone around the crash site is 3/4 of a mile affecting dozens of nearby businesses.
It's unknown when the roads will reopen.
There was a small fire related to the crash but that fire was contained within the warehouse thanks to the building's sprinkler system, according to Capt. Herrera.
Capt. Herrera said fire crews, along with a hazmat team and military base officials, will go back into the building to "secure" whatever is left of the F-16 fighter jet.
The pilot was conducting a training exercise for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and assigned to the 114th Fighter Wing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Military officials during a Friday morning press conference would not elaborate on the type of training the pilot was conducting or what type weapons or explosives may have been on the fighter jet.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal crews are in the process of removing the F-16 from the warehouse while officials continue to investigate the cause of the crash.