(USA TODAY) -- An F-15C fighter jet based at a National Guard facility in Massachusetts crashed Wednesday in Virginia's George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, an Air Force spokesperson said.
The jet is a one-person craft and the status of the pilot was not immediately known, Maj. Candice Ismirle said.
The F-15C is part of the 104th Fighter Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. It flew out of the Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield, Mass.
Maj. Matthew Mutti, a spokesman for the 104th Fighter Wing, said a single pilot was flying the F-15 over the Shenandoah Valley when it crashed, the Los Angeles Times reports. The pilot was en route to a nearby base so that the plane could receive a "system upgrade."
The jet was on a standard training exercise with no munition onboard, Mutti said. He didn't say where it was headed or release the pilot's name.
Augusta County Sheriff's Office scanners said one ambulance was sent to the rugged national forest area.
Sheriff's Office dispatcher Becky Coynter said witnesses reported hearing a loud noise that sounded like an explosion just before 9 a.m. Wednesday. Coynter said military officials in Washington told local authorities that communication with a military jet had been lost.
"It's the loudest noise I've ever heard," 63-year-old Rebecca Shinaberry, who lives on a farm about two miles away, told The Associated Press. "(It) just shook the ground, and from my house we could just see a big plume of smoke."
Emergency responders approaching the scene had reported visible smoke on the horizon, The News Leader in Staunton, Va., said. "I'm on location, with smoke, and we do have debris," said one responder on emergency radio frequencies at 10:04 a.m. ET. "I got debris everywhere ... I haven't located anybody."
Law enforcement officers who had approached the site of the crash were advised that the smoke could be toxic.
The emergency dispatcher said on the scanner that the Federal Aviation Administration had called to advise that the plane was not armed, but that the fuel is "corrosive."
Police closed an area road, Old Parkersburg Turnpike, to non-emergency traffic.
The 104th Fighter Wing supports Air Force wartime efforts, and organizes, trains and equips personnel to provide an operationally ready squadron to the Air Combat Command.
Contributing: The (Staunton, Va.) News Leader; Associated Press