Flames keep investigators from reaching mountain plane wreck

SAN DIEGO — A fire apparently sparked by a nighttime plane crash near Volcan Mountain on Thursday inched closer to containment Saturday.

The blaze, dubbed the Volcan Fire, was 90 percent contained and holding at 12 acres Saturday evening, according to Cal Fire San Diego.

A resident of Julian reported seeing an aircraft apparently plunging to the ground northeast of the tourist destination highland town about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, according to sheriff’s officials.

Less than 30 minutes later, authorities got word of a small brush fire in the Ranchita area, Lt. Amber Baggs said.

A sheriff’s helicopter crew was unable to find any plane wreckage in the darkness, and firefighters had to wait until morning to make their way to the remote canyon where the blaze was burning. By the time they reached the site shortly after sunrise Friday morning, the flames had spread over about 10 acres, according to Cal Fire.

The fire posed no structural threats, the state agency reported.

At about 9:30 a.m. Friday, firefighters found aircraft wreckage in the burn zone, Baggs said. There was no immediate word on the condition of whoever was aboard the aircraft when it went down.

The destroyed airplane remained unidentified Saturday, though a twin- engine Beechcraft Duchess was reported overdue Thursday night when it failed to land at Ramona Airport when expected, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We do not know where the aircraft is,” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said Friday.

The missing plane is registered to a flight school that operates out of Gillespie Field airport in El Cajon, according to an online aircraft registration roster.