Approximately 30 emergency personnel responded when a small plane crashed Jan. 7 into a public storage unit at 1721 Central Ave. S. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire

Approximately 30 emergency personnel responded when a small plane crashed Jan. 7 into a public storage unit at 1721 Central Ave. S. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire

Kent firefighters scramble 15 feet in air to rescue plane crash victims

2 men were stuck in plane atop storage unit roof; National Transportation Safety Board begins investigation

Although it’s rare when Kent firefighters need to use their training skills to rescue people from a plane crash, that’s exactly what happened the Saturday afternoon of Jan. 7.

Two men were injured when approximately six minutes after takeoff from Auburn Municipal Airport they crashed into a storage unit at about 1:19 p.m. at Affordable Self Storage, 1721 Central Ave. S., almost directly north of the airport.

“Firefighters arrived and found two critically injured men in the plane,” said Pat Pawlak, spokesperson for Kent-based Puget Sound Fire. “The plane was approximately 15 feet in the air, on the roof of the self-storage building.”

Firefighters used ladders to scramble about 15 feet in the air to reach the men trapped inside.

“As a patient was removed from the plane, they were carefully brought down by, cradled in a firefighter’s arm,” Pawlak said.

Both patients were on the ground within 19 minutes after the dispatch call, Pawlak said. Paramedics transported the two men, ages 59 and 23, to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

“One male is satisfactory,” according to a Jan. 9 email from a hospital spokesperson. “Other patient is asking for privacy.”

Approxmiately 30 emergency personnel responded to the plane crash, Pawlak said.

That is one of the many rescue training skills firefighters learn.

“Our firefighters, along with firefighters from other departments in the South King County Fire Training Consortium, train on all sorts of rescues, including aircraft, train, high angle and water rescue,” Pawlak said.

Pawlak said he didn’t know when Puget Sound Fire last responded to a plane crash in Kent.

According to a Kent Reporter website search for plane crashes, in 2019 kayakers rescued a man after his small plane crashed into Lake Morton, near Kent; in 2011 both occupants escaped injury when a small plane made an emergency landing at the then-Smith Brothers Farms near South 277th Street and the West Valley Highway; and in 2009 a small plane made an emergency landing without injury on the drag strip at Pacific Raceways.

Latest crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has opened an investigation into the Jan. 7 small plane crash in Kent.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will provide the NTSB with photographs and other on-scene documentation related to the airplane and the crash site, according to a Jan. 9 email from a NTSB media relations spokesperson based in Washington, D.C.

“The NTSB investigation is expected to be completed in six to 12 months,” the spokesperson said. “A preliminary report will be available on the NTSB website in two to three weeks.”

The preliminary report will contain factual information collected on scene, but it will not have a cause, according to the NTSB website. The probable cause for the accident will be included in a final report.

The plane, a Challenger II, is manufactured by Quad City Aircraft, according to an accident and incident notification report on the FAA website. The crash is considered an accident and injuries to the two occupants were serious. The plane suffered substantial damage. Nobody on the ground was hurt.

The Challenger II fixed-wing, single-engine aircraft that seats two, took off at 1:13 p.m. from Auburn, according to It flew about 6 minutes before crashing. Auburn Municipal Airport is at 2143 E St. NE, just south of the storage units. A Spokane man owns the plane, according to FlightWare.

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