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Santa Catalina Island fire declared fully contained

July 2, 2010 |  2:23 pm

A brush fire that burned 20 acres on Santa Catalina Island after a single-engine plane crashed and burst into flames has been fully contained, Los Angeles County fire officials said Friday.

About 150 firefighters, with the aid of a water-dropping helicopter, battled the fire that began Thursday afternoon.

The city of Avalon, 10 miles southwest of the fire, was not affected by the blaze, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Donahue. No homes or structures were damaged in the fire, which was declared contained around 11 a.m. Friday, he said.

Thursday's blaze broke out after a small plane burst into flames and crashed in the rugged, hilly terrain near Echo Lake on approach to Catalina's Airport. The pilot radioed controllers about 1 p.m. that he was possibly having a heart attack and may not make it to the runway, authorities said.

A few minutes later, the single-engine Cessna 182P plummeted into brush terrain about 2 miles northeast of the airport, sparking the fire, authorities said. The pilot was pronounced dead hours later.

-- Andrew Blankstein