Pilot dies after small plane crashes, erupts in flames near Southern California freeway

California Connection
Data pix.

(KTLA) -- A pilot was killed after a small plane crashed and erupted in flames near a Southern California Saturday morning, authorities said.

FOX40 sister station KTLA reports firefighters responded to the downed plane near the northbound 14 Freeway in Santa Clarita following reports of an "aircraft emergency" at about 10:10 a.m. There they found the aircraft completely engulfed in flames, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

Photos and video posted online show flames and a thick cloud of black smoke billowing over a grassy area near the roadway.

Courtney Gonzales, who was hiking in the area at the time, said she saw the plane nose-dive down, clip a tree and crash near the freeway.

“The next thing we saw was a big black cloud of smoke," she told KTLA.

The pilot was the sole occupant of the aircraft, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. No other deaths or injuries were reported.

The plane was a home-built TM-1 Thunder Mustang, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Fire officials said the flames did not spread to surrounding brush.

California Highway Patrol closed northbound lanes of the freeway as well as the Newhall Avenue ramps until 10 a.m. Sunday.

It's unclear what led to the crash. The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station, the Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB are all investigating the incident.

No further details were immediately available.

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