Neighborhood remains restricted after F-16 crash - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Neighborhood remains restricted after F-16 crash

ADAMS COUNTY (WKOW) -- The rural town of New Chester neighborhood where an F-16 fighter jet crashed Tuesday remains under restricted access as crews continue to collect parts of the plane.

Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie says the area is open to local residents only and will stay that way for the remainder of the week.

The pilot of the one-person F-16 jet was able to eject safely before the crash. The plane hit an empty home and destroyed it around 1:30 p.m.

Military officials and local authorities quickly quarantined the site and blocked off roads.

Guthrie says the Adams County sheriff's department established a 2,500 foot perimeter - standard Air Force procedure.

Hazmat crews were called in to determine if there were any dangerous fumes.

Guthrie says the sheriff's department evacuated about 50 people, taking many to the New Chester Town Hall and Fire Station, a small building serving as an emergency command post.

One of the evacuees was Trent Roerick.

He says he heard a "big thud" that shook his whole house. He and his fiancee tried to make their way through the woods to find the crash site, but turned back when they started having trouble breathing in the smoke.

Just across a field from the site, Martha Clark was outside in her garden when she heard a "boom" and saw an F-16 fly low overhead.

She ran to the main road to see what happened, and found her neighbor's home in ruins.

"There was one window and a corner left," she said.

Neighbors say military fly-overs and training exercises are common in the area, and happen about twice a week. The crash site is not far from Volk Field, an Air National Guard base.

They say maneuvers almost always involve two or more planes. Clark says she thinks the plane she saw was the second in the exercise, circling overhead to find the crash site.

Lt. Col. Guthrie would not confirm if another plane was involved in the exercise.

The downed F-16 was operated by the Madison-based 115th Figther Wing. The pilot has not been identified.

The National Guard is asking residents in the area not to touch parts of the jet if they find any.

Instead, they're asking people to call local law enforcement.

Guthrie says the investigation will take a few months.

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