Small plane crash kills one, ignites massive brush fire

UPDATED 9/5/11: reports two men – John Nuckolls, 55, and his friend identified only as Walt – died in the plane crash. According to the news website, a gust of wind caught the small plane and slammed it into the hillside. Read more at

TEHACHAPI – As of 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, plumes of smoke could be seen over the mountains from northwest Lancaster.

A massive brush fire was raging in Tehachapi and more that 300 firefighters from county, state and federal agencies were on the scene trying to contain the blaze.

The fast moving brush fire started around 11:30 a.m. Sunday when a single-engine Cessna went down and then burst into flames near Mountain Valley Airport in Tehachapi. At least one person was confirmed dead Sunday and authorities do not know whether there was more than one person on board.

The Kern County Fire Department reports the fire had spread to 1,000 acres as of 5 p.m., destroyed at least one home and threatened at least 30 other structures.  Authorities ordered Blackburn Canyon residents to evacuate and an evacuation center was set up at Jacobsen Junior High School.