WOODBRIDGE, NJ (AP) – A small plane crashed on the roof of a house on Tuesday, killing the pilot and causing an explosion that set fire to two houses in a New Jersey suburb of New York City.
No one was in the house where the Cessna 414 collided, but the flames spread to another house where a woman escaped an injury, Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said.
The plane crashed not far from an elementary school at about 11 am, according to National Transportation Safety Board researcher Adam Gerhardt.
The accident threw flames into the air, blew smoke for hours and left neighbors thinking the earth was shaking.
Steven Smith lives around the corner from the crash site. He said he heard a plane coming low, as if it were diving.
"There was a very short pause for about two seconds. There was a big bang that shook my whole house," Smith said.
Gerhardt said the wreckage could take up to three days to leave the house, whose second floor the plane nearly took off before being incorporated into the hold.
He said a third home was also affected.
The flight left Leesburg, Virginia, with only the pilot on board before 10 am, officials said. The pilot was released to land at Linden Airport, about 6 km from the crash, but suddenly lost touch with air traffic control, according to Gerhardt.
Gerdardt said the pilot was flying using flight rules commonly seen among experienced pilots.
Retired professor Jerry Bartolino was at home three houses away when the plane crashed. He heard a crash and felt the ground shake, he said.
Bartolino heard someone shout "Oh my God" and ran outside to see flames coming out of the house, he said.
The fires were controlled, said the mayor.
George Brown, another neighbor, told WCBS that he saw flames from where the plane crashed.
"It looks like a volcano has erupted," he said.
The well-maintained one- and two-storey neighborhood is between a golf course and an elementary school, not far from a New Jersey Transit rail line.
The weather in the area was cloudy and misty at the time of the accident.
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The NTSB's final accident report may take up to two years to complete.