An F-16 fighter jet crashed Wednesday morning just miles out of Washington, D.C., near Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, prompting the evacuation of civilians from the area.
The F-16C Fighting Falcon, belonging to the D.C. Air National Guard, crashed at approximately 9:15 a.m., sending a pillar of black smoke into the air in Clinton, Maryland, NBC Washington reports.
The jet was involved in a routine training mission.
Authorities have locked this area down, in order to conduct an investigation and have evacuated civilians from their homes because of the smoke.
Fortunately, the pilot managed to eject before the crash, and while he’s sustained injuries, they are not life-threatening.
“We have reports that there was one pilot on board the aircraft who parachuted out, and has been picked up by a military helicopter and has been taken to an area hospital,” Prince George’s County fire department spokesman Mark Brady told NBC Washington.
One witness told Fox 5 DC that he heard an incredibly loud noise and looked to the sky, where he saw the jet on fire.
“It was the biggest fire ball I’ve ever seen in my life,” Patrick Dotson told Fox 5 DC.
Another witness, Kent Roberson, told NBC Washington he was driving in the area when the F-16C crashed.
“…I just heard a loud boom, I guess… like how a large tree falls and shakes the ground,” Roberson said. “That’s what it felt like and what I heard.”
F-16s cost $20 million each.
It’s unclear what caused the accident, but the 113th wing, to which this F-16C belongs, is responsible for about 3,000 flights a year in the surrounding D.C. airspace.
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