A single-engine plane crashed into a waterfront mobile home park in Clearwater, Fla., Thursday evening, killing several people and damaging four homes, officials said.
The plane slammed directly into one home, Scott Ehlers, the fire chief in Clearwater, said at a news conference, adding that there were “several fatalities, both from the aircraft and within the mobile home.”
The crash engulfed part of the park, Bayside Waters, in flames, and three other mobile homes were damaged, though no one inside those was injured, Chief Ehlers said.
Videos posted online showed an orange blaze and a wall of thick smoke billowing over homes. Frances Yont, who lives across the street from the crash, told 10 Tampa Bay, a CBS affiliate, that she could feel the heat from the fire when she ran out of her home in Clearwater, roughly 20 miles west of Tampa.
“Everything was popping like propane tanks,” she said. “We couldn’t do anything,” she said, adding that “it was horrible.”
Fire officials were coordinating with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration for an investigation, Chief Ehlers said.
The Fire Department received the initial call at 7:08 p.m., and crews “quickly extinguished” the blaze after arriving at the park at about 7:15 p.m., Chief Ehlers said.
About the same time that his department was called, the chief said, the St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, roughly three miles away, had dispatched its own fire response vehicles to an “aircraft having an emergency.”
The pilot had reported a “mayday” over the radio to the airport, he added.
“The aircraft went off radar about three miles north of the runway, which is in this location here,” the chief said at the crash site.