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3 injured in fiery small plane crash near Gillespie Field in El Cajon

A single-engine plane crashed Sunday morning near a public airport in the East County.

EL CAJON (NEWS 8) - A small plane crashed and burned in an El Cajon parking lot shortly after takeoff Sunday, sending three people to a hospital. 

The pilot of a North American Navion aircraft took off from Gillespie Field minutes before reporting engine trouble and trying to return.  

The plane went down just before 10 a.m. in the 1900 block of Gillespie Way in the parking lot of a business.

The plane lost its wing, a lamp post was damaged and the aircraft eventually crashed into a nearby fence. 

Leaking fuel from the plane caught fire, and the wreckage became engulfed in flames. 

Three men managed to get themselves out of the wreckage and were taken to Sharp Memorial Hospital. The extent of their injuries was unknown as of Sunday night.  

"Given the scenario and them crashing like they did, that's why there were major traumas," said Mark Casey, a spokesman for Heartland Fire and Rescue. 

Flightaware shows the plane came in from Santa Ana around 8:20 a.m.  

It spent a little more than an hour on the ground then took off. 

Firefighters say it was full of fuel when it crashed. 

"Aviation fuel is highly flammable, but crews were able to get on scene quickly and put it out within seven minutes," said Casey. 

The plane was built in 1947 and is now owned by two Huntington Beach residents, but it's not known if they were on board. 

Sunday isn't the first time this plane has crashed. 

Federal records show 42 years ago almost to the day the plane crashed in New Orleans. 

Then investigators say the propeller failed and engine tore away. 

In this case, the investigation is just getting started. 

"FAA will be conducting an investigation," said Casey. "Right now, we're just holding the scene until they arrive and they'll determine what extent they'll do on scene or take to another location." 

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