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Solar Eclipse.

Byline: Alisha Roemeling The Register-Guard

MADRAS - Two people are dead following a single-engine plane crash about one mile south of the Madras Municipal Airport on Saturday afternoon.

The pilot of the plane and one passenger died in the crash, according to officials with the Central Oregon Joint Information Network. The identities of the deceased had not been released as of 10 p.m. Saturday.

The plane, a single-engine, homebuilt Wheeler Express, was arriving at the airport when it crashed around 1:50 p.m. under unknown circumstances in Willow Creek Canyon, said Ian Gregor, public affairs manager with the Federal Aviation Administration.

NBC Bay Area affiliate KNTV in California reported that the plane took off from the San Carlos Airport. An employee who works at the airport said the plane took off from the San Francisco Bay Area city late Saturday morning. The employee added that the plane was based at the San Carlos Airport.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the crash.

The crash prompted a heavy response from area police, fire and emergency crews, including Oregon State Police, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Jefferson County Fire Department, who could be seen rushing to the area from the Madras airport.

A large plume of smoke from a small fire that was started from the crash could be seen from fields just outside the airport, where thousands of people were expected to gather for Monday's solar eclipse.

Closer to the crash on Northwest Burch Lane, pieces of a white plane were seen on one side of Willow Creek Canyon, a steep and seemingly rocky terrain with vegetation sprinkled throughout the area.

The wings of the plane looked as if they had melted into the side of the canyon. About 4 p.m., white smoke was seen rising from the crash site as fire crews worked to mop up remaining hot spots.

A witness of the crash said it happened quickly.

"We were playing cornhole and it was really quiet, and then all of a sudden we heard a 'pop' sound," said Lonny Clark, a Bend resident staying in the area to watch the eclipse. "We looked up and saw the plane sputter and try to turn quickly back to the field he'd just crossed, but the turn was too sharp and he just went down."

Clark said the crash sounded like a "muffled explosion."

Follow Alisha on Twitter @alisharoemeling. Email

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Title Annotation:Solar Eclipse
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 20, 2017
Previous Article:eclipse in sight.
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