Somerton Cocopah firefighters rushed to the area of County 18 3/4 Street and Avenue D Saturday night for a report of a single-engine plane crash.
Fire Chief Paul De Anda said the incident happened at approximately 8:30 p.m., and the area was difficult to get to because it was on the north side of the West Main Canal, abutting the edge of the mesa.
When firefighters arrived on scene, they found the plane fully engulfed in flames and beginning to burn part of an orchard.
De Anda said firefighters used compressed air foam to suppress the plane and orchard fire.
The pilot told firefighters that the aero applicator plane (crop duster) was not gaining lift as he tried to take off, and he bailed out.
The plane then continued down the runway and crashed into the orchard, bursting into flames.
“The pilot was trying to take off but was not getting any lift,” De Anda said. “He bailed out when he couldn’t stop the plane, and it continued on its own.”
The pilot was uninjured and refused treatment and transportation to Yuma Regional Medical Center. The plane was not carrying any pesticides at the time of the crash.
The Yuma County Sheriff’s Office is investigating.