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3 dead in plane crash that caused brush fire in California

By Ray Downs

May 13 (UPI) -- Three people in Southern California were found dead in a plane crash Sunday that authorities believe was the cause of a brush fire.

The crash occurred on Thursday and caused a 12-acre fire near Volcan Mountain in San Diego County. Crews searched for the victims as fire crews battled the blaze. By Sunday, the fire was contained and rescue crews were able to locate the victims. But law enforcement officials weren't able to retrieve the bodies due to high winds.

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"We located the remains of three victims there," said San Diego County Sheriff's Dept. Lt. Greg Rylaarsdam, according to KFMB-TV. "Unfortunately, the only way to get those victims out is by helicopter. And sheriff's Astrea went up there this afternoon and was unable to fly into that canyon because of high winds that still exist there."

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were not able to investigate the crash scene because the site was in an area too difficult to reach, the Los Angeles Times reported. But sheriff's officials were able to conduct a preliminary investigation.

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The victims' names and the plane have not yet been identified.

"We haven't positively identified the plane yet," Rylaarsdam said. "I think we may be able to at some point, perhaps with a serialized part, but it's not like there's a plane sitting down there. There's a debris field."

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