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Idaho Official’s Son Dies In Plane Crash

Boise restaurateur Joe Cenarrusa, son of Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, was killed in the crash of his light airplane Tuesday, apparently after clipping a power line.

Cenarrusa was the former owner of Joe’s AllAmerican Grill and president of Boise Food Development Co., which operates Red Robin restaurants in Boise and Reno, Nev.

Ben Ysursa, chief deputy secretary of state, said Joe Cenarrusa, 49, was killed in the crash. He was the only child of Pete and Freda Cenarrusa. Pete Cenarrusa has been secretary of state for just over 30 years.

Ysursa said Joe Cenarrusa was an accomplished pilot who obtained his flying license at age 16. He is survived by his wife, Jean, and two sons.

The younger Cenarrusa was a graduate of Carey High School and the University of Idaho.

Sources said a second airplane was flying with Joe Cenarrusa’s plane Tuesday morning. The second pilot said he saw Joe Cenarrusa’s plane clip a power line and then go down, exploding on impact.

The crash occurred at Harris Creek Road, four miles east of Horseshoe Bend, about 20 miles north of Boise.

The crash set off a range fire, and Bureau of Land Management crews rushed to battle it.

It quickly reached 60 acres in grass and brush on BLM and private land.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise said no structures were threatened in the grass fire. By midafternoon it was contained on the north side of Harris Creek Road and 30 percent contained on the south side.

State and federal fire teams battled the range fire. The fire center said two air tankers were dispatched, along with a helicopter, two light planes, four bulldozers, five fire engines and fire crews.