3 dead in mountain plane crash that sparked wildfire

SAN DIEGO — A search-and-rescue team Sunday found the remains of three people among the wreckage of a plane believed to have crashed and sparked a brushfire near Volcan Mountain this week, authorities said.

Sheriff’s deputies were preparing to have the remains moved from the mountain, but high winds have so far prevented a helicopter from reaching the remote canyon where the crash site is located, according to San Diego County sheriff’s Lt. Greg Rylaarsdam.

Cal Fire San Diego spokesman Issac Sanchez said he’s not sure when Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators will be able to inspect the wreckage of the plane that’s believed to have sparked the fire.

“The fire threat has been mitigated,” he said. “But there’s still an accessibility issue.”

The Sheriff’s Department has not yet confirmed whether the wreckage belongs to a plane reported missing out of Gillespie Field in El Cajon.

“In the upcoming days, all involved will continue to work diligently to identify the plane and recover the victims from Volcan Mountain,” Rylaarsdam said in a statement.

The missing plane, a twin-engine Beechcraft Duchess, had been expected to land at Ramona Airport on Thursday.

A resident of Julian reported seeing a plane plunge to the ground northeast of the tourist destination highland town about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, sheriff’s officials said, about 30 minutes before the first report of the fire.

Firefighters on Sunday were also able to completely contain the brushfire sparked by the crash.

The blaze, dubbed the Volcan Fire, held at 12 acres, according to Cal Fire San Diego.

Crews were expected to be at the scene at least until midweek due to “heavy fuels and extensive mop up required,” the fire agency tweeted.