published Monday, September 30th, 2013

Small jet hits hangar at Santa Monica Airport

  • photo
    Firefighters work to extinguish fire at the site of a plane crash in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — A small jet that took off from Idaho has crashed into a storage hangar and started a large fire after landing Sunday night at a Southern California airport, officials said.

The twin-engine Cessna Citation that took off from Hailey, Idaho, went off the right side of the runway at Santa Monica Municipal Airport at about 6:20 p.m. and struck the hangar, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The fire destroyed the hangar, Santa Monica Fire Department spokeswoman Bridgett Lewis said.

"It was a total loss," Lewis said.

The blaze did minor damage to two other buildings and several units were in defensive mode to keep it from spreading further, Lewis said.

It was not immediately clear how many people were on the plane or whether anyone was inside the hangar, and there was no immediate word on any injuries or deaths.

Fire Capt. John Nevandro told KNBC-TV the crash was "unsurvivable," but firefighters had yet to confirm any deaths.

News helicopter footage on KCAL-TV showed all but the tail of the plane trapped under a collapsed section of the small hangar.

A plume of smoke rising above the airport could be seen in the surrounding neighborhood.

Jack Bonner, 15, said he was hanging out at his home near the airport with a friend when he heard a boom "like a thunderclap."

"I was like, 'Wow, what the heck is going on?'" he told the Los Angeles Times, before turning on the TV and learning about the plane.

The jet, a Cessna 525A manufactured in 2003, is registered to a Malibu, Calif. address and its corporate owner, Creative Real Estate Exchange, is based in Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta, according to FAA public records.

Phone messages left after hours at the real estate company's two offices were not immediately returned.

Santa Monica Airport, located in the coastal tourist destination known for its trendy bars, restaurants and wooden-pier carnival, is home to many private jets, many of them used by wealthy Southern Californians from the entertainment industry.

The airport in Hailey serves Idaho's Sun Valley resort area, which is a frequent destination for many celebrities, and the rich and powerful alike.

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