News Plane Crashes — 18 September 2017

A small plane crash-landed Sunday in an unincorporated area of El Cajon, missing homes and a Mormon Church.

Two men were on the plane, but they escaped serious injuries. They were seen talking to police and Heartland Fire officials at the site about 1 1/2 miles east of Gillespie Field.

The Piper Warrior II landed on North Second Street at El Rey Avenue at about 1:46 p.m., according to California Highway Patrol reports.

Both men refused medical treatment, said Mark Casey of Heartland Fire and Rescue, which serves El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove.

According to FAA records, the 32-year-old fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft was registered to a Brian Fink of Ramona, whose LinkedIn profile said he’s a software engineer at Qualcomm.

The downed plane was tilted on its side with a broken wing in front of an occupied Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Thomas Anderson, who lives on nearby Bostonia Street, visited the scene after hearing what he first thought was fireworks.

“We had our back door open, and … it sounded like gun shots. There were two or three popping sounds and then a crashing sound, like fireworks,” he told Times of San Diego.

Emergency sirens followed, along with a helicopter overhead.

“My dog freaked out, so I thought it was fireworks,” Anderson said.

Heartland Fire and Rescue advised residents to avoid the area for the next several hours.

No one on the ground was hurt in the crash. It wasn’t immediately known if the plane was headed for Gillespie Field or had just taken off.

The plane lost power while in a traffic pattern near the airfield, according to multiple reports.

A pilot on the ground in the neighborhood said he was in the air and heard an airport tower transmission that one of the runways was shut down but did not hear reports of an emergency landing.

The plane was leaking fuel after the crash, initially a cause for concern, but firefighters managed to put a stop to the leak, Casey said.

Crews were still on the scene as of 3 p.m., and the cause of the crash was unknown.

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