Pilot ejects from burning F-16 jet at Ellington Airport

By Aaron Barker - Senior Web Editor, Phil Archer - Reporter

HOUSTON - Evacuations were ordered on Wednesday for an area surrounding Ellington Airport after a pilot was forced to eject from a burning F-16 jet.

The jet was preparing to take off along with another F-16 assigned to the 138th Fighter Wing stationed at Ellington when a fire broke out on board.

The pilot ejected safely and was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries, according to NORAD.

VIDEO: Smoke rises from Ellington Airport

The plane careened off the runway and continued to burn. A passing motorist, Mitch Ivey, saw it happen and stopped to capture it with his video camera.

“The jet that was basically fixing to take off, about halfway through he cut his engine off and coasted while the big fireball and smoke plume was going on. That’s when I decided to take out my camera and start recording,” Ivey said.

Ellington firefighters quickly put out the fire, but as the plane sat on the ground, its engine continued to idle. The plane was also armed with ammunition, making it too dangerous to approach.

An evacuation was ordered for people within three-quarters of a mile, according to officials at the Houston Office of Emergency Management. They said there are only support and public works facilities within the area.

Officials also closed Beltway 8 from Crenshaw to Galveston roads, and deputies from the Harris County Precinct 8 Constable's Office said they were blocking streets around the airport, including the intersection of Farley and Genoa Red Bluff roads.

Airport officials estimated it could take up to six hours for the fuel to burn off and allow the plane to be secured. But just before 4 p.m., the engine quit, and firefighters moved in to make an assessment.

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