An airlifted rescue crew may be launched to search for bodies inside the plane that crashed and caused a fire in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, about 40 miles east of Phoenix on Wednesday, said Pinal County Sheriff's Office spokesman Elias Johnson.
Johnson confirmed to reporters that because of the fire and the rugged terrain of the mountain causing difficulty, rescuers who have already been dispatched to the crash site may now have to be airlifted to the site by helicopter and dropped down to the ground. Then, they will use infrared readers to find the bodies in the dark. Johnson said that if rescuers were to continue to approach the crash site by foot, they would face a six-hour hike, which would take too long to recover as many survivors as possible.
I can't speak about the fire, he said. Our priority, though, is to get up there and try to recover.
According to ABC15.com, crews from the Apache Junction Fire Department as well as the Pinal County Sheriff's Office have responded to the crash and will assist in accessing any potential victims. The Fire Department spokesman Dave Montgomery said crews are having difficulty accessing the site and it is possible the fire will burn itself out.
Calls to 911 dispatchers about the crash started coming in at around 6:30 p.m. MST, and witnesses say flames were seen at the crash site 10 minutes later.
Johnson said the plane was a twin-engine airplane, not commercial. While he also said he doesn't know the number of people that were on board, he did say that there was probably only a handful of people on board.
ABC15.com also reports that the plane crashed near the top of the mountain at a height of approximately 4,500 feet. According to Johnson, it is unclear where the plane originated from and where it was going.
Watch the ABC15 viewer's captured video of the crash: