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Firefighters battle Catalina brush fire sparked by plane crash [Updated]

July 1, 2010 |  4:40 pm
About 100 firefighters were battling a 15-acre brush fire on Santa Catalina Island on Thursday afternoon that was sparked by a small plane crash.

The blaze was near the island's airport and was 50% contained, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said. Ground crews were being assisted by three helicopters.

The plane was approaching the runway of Catalina's Airport in the Sky and crashed about two miles away in heavy mountain terrain near Echo Lake, said Lt. Jeff Donahue of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Avalon Station. The pilot may have suffered a heart attack.

It was unclear how many people were on the plane or whether there were any survivors.

[Updated at 4:31 p.m.: Firefighters have found one victim who apparently died in the plane crash. No details were available on whether there were additional victims.]

-- Robert J. Lopez