At least one person was killed and another seriously injured when a Canadian Snowbirds jet crashed into a house, causing a fire, on Sunday, the Royal Canadian Air Force said. The Snowbirds aerobatics team was doing a flyover of the region as part of Operation Inspiration, a salute to of the coronavirus , according to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
The city of Kamloops said the aircraft crashed at 11:40 a.m. PT, crashing shortly after takeoff at the Kamloops Airport, some 260miles northeast of Vancouver.
Witnesses told CBC the jet was following another jet when it appeared to veer upward and circle the tarmac before going into a nosedive. Wreckage was apparently seen scattered across the neighborhood.
“The one plane continued and the other one … was a ball of fire,” said witness Annette Schonewille. “No noise, it was strange, and then the plane just did a cartwheel and fell right out of the sky. Just boom, straight down, and then a burst of black, black smoke.”
Rose Miller, who lives directly across the street from where the plane crashed, told The Associated Press that a couple in their early 70s lives in the home. They were uninjured as the woman was in the basement and the man was behind the house at the time of the incident.
The jets had arrived in Kamloops on Saturday after flyovers in Alberta, according to CBC. On Sunday morning, the Snowbirds tweeted some mountain passes had low cloud cover, which would be unsafe to fly through.
Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau tweeted his condolences to those affected in the crash and wrote, “My thoughts are with the brave members of the [RCAF].” The AP said the Snowbirds are Canada’s equivalent of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds or U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels; they have also across parts of the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic.