F-16 Jet Catches Fire at Houston Airport; Pilot Ejects

HOUSTON — Officials say an F-16 fighter jet caught fire while attempting to take off at Ellington Airport in Houston and the pilot ejected.

The Houston Fire Department said in a statement that crews were dispatched to assist with a "downed plane" late Wednesday morning. The statement says the F-16 was on fire on the ground after the pilot ejected.

The pilot was transported to a hospital. The city of Houston said in a statement that the pilot is said to have minor injuries. The accident occurred at Ellington Airport, which is home to a Texas Air National Guard base.

Airport spokesman Bill Begley says the incident happened as the jet was taking off.

Witness Mitch Ivey was driving by and recorded the incident. He told NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston: "The jet that was basically fixing to take off, about halfway through he cut his engine off and coasted while the big fireball and smoke plume was going on."

The aircraft was armed and the base was evacuated as a precaution, according to KPRC. A statement released by the City of Houston confirmed that the base was evacuated.

"The pilot ejected and was taken to the hospital by military transport," the statement added. "The pilot is said to have minor injuries. The evacuation covers a 4000 square foot radius from the crash site and will last for the next 6 hours."

There was no danger to residents, according to the statement.

Further details weren't immediately available Wednesday.