C-17 cargo plane crashes at Alaska's Elmendorf Air Base

A C-17 cargo plane with four people on board crashed and burned on Elmendorf Air Force Base Wednesday evening, according to the Air Force.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, the highest ranking military official in Alaska, said at a press conference late Wednesday night that it's "likely there are fatalities involving this mishap." He said investigators were working the scene into the night.

Atkins said the plane was practicing for the Elmendorf air show planned for this weekend went it crashed at 6:14 p.m. The huge, four-engine jet, which is known as the most advanced cargo aircraft in the world, crashed in what witnesses described as a huge ball of flame.

"It's not an ejection aircraft," Atkins said during the press conference, held outside the Boniface Parkway gate of Elmendorf. "I mean, it's not like a fighter where you can eject out of the aircraft. So, likely nobody escaped the aircraft prior to the crash."

The aircraft belonged to Elmendorf's 3rd Wing but officials wouldn't address whether the crew was Air Force, Alaska National Guard, or a mix.

Initial reports indicated the plane had gone down in a wooded area about two miles north and east of the runway.

A black plume of smoke was visible rising from the base starting shortly after 6 p.m.

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