Six people died Sunday when a twin-engine airplane crashed and burned on a mountainside in the Eldorado National Forest in Northern California, authorities said.
A witness notified the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department that the plane went down about 9:20 a.m., Undersheriff Jim Roth said.
The fire helped rescue crews find it in a heavily wooded area of the High Sierra at about 5,000 feet, Roth said. Crews from the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry put out the flames.
Roth said six people were confirmed dead. Names of the victims were not released.
Fred O'Donnell, a Los Angeles-based spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said details were sketchy, but it appeared that the twin-engine Beech Queen Air took off from the Modesto airport at about 8:30 a.m., on a pleasure trip to Lake Tahoe. The pilot used visual flight rules, meaning the aircraft had no contact with the tower.
"A short time after that they impacted about 25 miles northeast of Jackson at the 5,000-foot level. The aircraft burned," O'Donnell said.
He said he believed that conditions were clear at the time of the crash. He declined to speculate on what caused the impact.
"We just go with what information can be gleaned from the wreckage," he said.
Jackson, the closest major town, is in Amador County, adjacent to El Dorado County. The plane crashed near the border of the two counties.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard suspended its search Sunday for a Santa Barbara couple believed to have perished--along with their grandsons\o7 --\f7 when their small plane crashed into the sea off Santa Barbara late Friday.
The search was abandoned after the Coast Guard scoured 200 square miles of the Pacific for Dennis Jones, 47, a Los Angeles area developer who resided in Santa Barbara, and his wife, Joan, 66. On Saturday, searchers found the bodies of the couple's grandsons, Matthew Hacker, 7, and Samuel Hacker, 10, of Orinda, and the two wing tanks from Dennis Jones' twin-engine Mitsubishi turboprop.
"Basically, we've just saturated the area and haven't been able to find anything that would indicate there's a chance of finding them still alive," said Scott Wasserman of the Coast Guard.
The Mitsubishi, on a flight from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara, crashed about 11:15 p.m. Friday about a mile off the Goleta Pier, eyewitnesses told police.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.