5 dead after planes collide in Otay Mesa

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OTAY MESA, Calif. - Five people were killed after two small planes collided in midair and caused a brush fire near Brown Field at Otay Mesa Sunday, an official with Cal Fire confirmed.

A San Diego fire official confirmed there was a midair collision near Brown Field Municipal Airport, a busy aviation facility about one mile north of the international boundary and about 8 miles northeast of San Ysidro.

"Start FAA. Debris is scattered everywhere,'' was the terse report from a California Highway Patrol officer to dispatchers, following the midair collision at 11:04 a.m. Sunday.

Another officer told dispatchers that one aircraft may have hit power lines near the R. J. Donovan Correction Center, a state prison just north of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

San Diego Fire-Rescue firefighters extinguished the flames at the plane wreckage within 40 minutes, but the resultant brush fire was still burning.

Cal Fire identified the planes as a twin-engine Saberliner mid-size business jet and a single-engine Cessna 172.

The death toll was originally reported as two, then three, then four, as the afternoon wore on and grisly discoveries were made. Around 8:30 p.m., Andrew Swick with the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed the death toll was five.  Four were passengers on the Sabreliner and the pilot on the Cessna.

Swick said  the Sabreliner was a Navy mission training flight and all on board were civilian contractors. He also confirmed that the Sabreliner is registered to BAE Systems out of Mojave, Calif.

"Witnesses reported hearing the midair collision and an aircraft hit the ground. We had numerous reports that  there was fire in the area," said Cal Fire Division Chief Nick Schuler.

Firefighters from San Diego, Chula Vista and Cal Fire worked on the crash aftermath and rash of brush fires. One firefighter, from Chula Vista, was taken to a hospital for treatment of heat exhaustion, Cal Fire said.

Plane parts will be transported to Phoenix Monday morning where officials will continue their investigation, according to Swick.

The identities of the victims were not released.

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