Small plane crash sparks rapid brush fire in Calif

AP News
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Posted: Sep 05, 2011 12:18 AM
Small plane crash sparks rapid brush fire in Calif

A small plane that crashed and burst into flames Sunday killed one person and ignited a fast-moving brush fire that bore down on a California mountain community, forcing residents to flee from at least 100 homes.

One house burned the ground after the single-engine Cessna 210 went down near Tehachapi south of Bakersfield, according to Kern County fire department spokesman Cary Wright.

Authorities did not know how many people were on the plane but one death was confirmed.

The fire in Blackburn Canyon was "growing by the minute," Wright said, adding that it shifted direction three times.

The blaze grew to 3,500 acres _ nearly 5 1/2 square miles _ amid dry, hot and windy conditions. More than 400 firefighters using 11 air tankers were working to contain the blaze, which was burning out of control.

Crews were attacking the flames from above, running water-dropping aircraft continuously. Most of the ground crews were devoted to structure protection.

"The terrain is steep, rugged. The wind is swirling. All the dry brush is a huge fuel source," Wright said.

Officials issued a mandatory evacuation order for 100 homes under threat in Blackburn Canyon and the Mountain Meadows area.

No injuries from the fire were reported.

The Red Cross set up an evacuation center at Jacobsen Junior High School in Tehachapi.