Small plane crashes, sets houses ablaze; pilot missing

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A small plane has crashed in a residential neighborhood in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City, setting two houses ablaze and leaving the pilot unaccounted for …

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A small plane crashed and exploded in a residential neighborhood in the New Jersey suburbs of New York City Tuesday morning, setting two houses on fire and leaving the pilot unaccounted for.

White smoke still rose in the afternoon from the house in the Colonia section of Woodbridge Township where a twin-engine Cessna 414 went down at 11 a.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration said.

No one was in that home, but flames spread to another house, where a woman escaped injury, Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac said. He does not believe anyone on the ground was injured.

Jerry Bartolino, a retired teacher, was at home three houses away when the plane went down. He heard a thundering crash and felt the ground shake, he said.

Bartolino heard someone screaming, “Oh my God,” and ran outside to see flames shooting up from the house, he said.

The flight had left Leesburg, Virginia, with only the pilot aboard, authorities said. It had been headed to Linden Airport, about 4 miles from the crash site.

The wreckage, and presumably the pilot, remained lodged in the basement of the house the plane hit, authorities said. There was no word on the pilot’s condition.

The weather in the area was cloudy and misty at the time of the crash.

The fires have been brought under control, the mayor said.

The neighborhood of well-kept, one- and two-story houses is nestled between a golf course and an elementary school, and not far from a New Jersey Transit rail line.

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