‘That plane is on fire!’ Witness recounts jet’s crash landing at Tri-Cities Airport

PASCO, Wash. — Bruce Robinson, a Pasco resident, was just getting his day started at work.

“Exciting morning!” he exclaimed.

It was just after seven, when he witnessed something unimaginable.

“I was just chatting with a friend in my peripherals, I just saw some flames,” he recalled.

Bruce saw a jet go by on the Tri-Cities Airport runway.

“And just this stream of flames behind it and I thought the jet was taking off and it was flames coming off and so I was ready to see it in the air and it never showed up,” he said.

Little did Robinson know, the jet was bound to land at the Tri-Cities Airport.

“Smoke came up over the buildings and that’s when I thought ‘oh my goodness, that plane is on fire.'”

“We don’t know why it landed without landing gear this morning, so it did slide down the runway, it did catch fire,” PIO with the Pasco Fire Department Ben Shearer said.

Shearer went on to say the plane skidded along the runway, eventually came to a stop, and burst into flames.

“Well the first thing is ‘wow that’s incredible’ to have seen that and then secondly, of course, it’s like, ‘I hope those people can get out!'” Robinson said.

The runway at the airport was closed for just over two hours as investigators analyzed the scene. Several first responders and other personnel could be seen surrounding the charred plane on Tuesday morning.

It wasn’t until after 9 AM that operations resumed at the airport.

What’s miraculous about this crash-landing?

“We had ten souls on board, all ten souls got off safely,” Shearer confirmed.

Not even an injury.

While the details surrounding the crash are limited, we do know the plane was a Cessna Citation CJ3 (twin jet) owned by the Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute.

According to the Kennewick PCLI Site Manager, the plane was flying from the Chehalis-Centralia Airport to Pasco, then had plans to continue to Lewiston, Idaho. She said their doctors and healthcare team travel often to perform surgeries and procedures at their multiple campuses.

She said many of their doctors also hold a pilot’s license, but for this trip they hired a pilot to fly the jet.

KAPP KVEW will have continued coverage on this story as details become available.

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