Crashed Cessna Sparks California Fire

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Both men inside a Cessna 210 died when it crashed in a southern California canyon on Sunday, starting a brush fire that burned across almost 15,000 acres by Wednesday morning. Twelve homes and 18 other buildings were destroyed, hundreds of homes were evacuated, and more than 2,000 firefighters and other emergency responders fought the blaze. The Cessna crashed about 11:25 a.m. on Sunday near the Mountain Valley Airport in Tehachapi, about 150 miles north of Los Angeles. The two men on board were Walter Johnson, 72, of Pomona, and John Nuckolls, 55, of Claremont.

The fire was fanned by strong, erratic winds, and rugged terrain increased the challenge for firefighters. Five helicopters and two tanker aircraft helped to fight the fire. By Wednesday morning, the California fire agency classified the blaze as "minimal" and allowed evacuees to return to their homes. The fire agency said costs "to date" from the fire totaled $5.4 million.