News World Pilot dies, houses burn after light plane crashes into suburban home
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Pilot dies, houses burn after light plane crashes into suburban home

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A small plane has crashed into a house in New Jersey, setting it ablaze and killing the pilot.

Authorities say the plane was flying low before it nosedived into the house in suburban Colonia about 11am on Tuesday morning (local time), landing in the basement and killing pilot Dr Michael Schloss.

“I saw this thing coming in like wing up, wing down … about maybe 100 feet (30 metres) above the house, just roaring in, and then boom – an explosion lit up the sky,” local Lindsey Maynard told broadcaster ABC.

Other neighbours reported the plane was flying abnormally low as it headed for nearby Linden Airport.

“The sounds were really loud, and it seemed like, near the end … it kind of sputtered out a little bit,” Steven Smith said.

“Then I just hear this loud bang, and it shook the whole house.”

No one was inside the house that was hit, but flames quickly spread to  neighbouring homes, one of which had woman was inside. She escaped without injury.

“There was a car in the driveway [of the first house], so everybody thought somebody was home, but nobody was home – they confirmed with the owner,” local mayor John McCormac said.

“Right now, we don’t believe any civilians on the ground were impacted by the crash.”

Up to 200 firefighters spent two hours putting out the house fires.

The US National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, said there were no other passengers on the eight-seater Cessna 414.

Sources told the broadcaster that the burning house made it difficult for rescue workers to reach Dr Schloss.

“Dr Schloss was an amazing man, I’ve known him over 30 years … he was a renowned cardiac doctor and he was very generous in that he used his specialty to help pilots that may be having difficulties getting through the FAA’s medical certification, for instance,” Linden Airport general manager Paul Dudley said.

-with agencies

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