"The fuel and the explosion just destroyed the house instantly," said Woodridge Township Mayor John E. McCormac

By Jason Duaine Hahn
October 29, 2019 04:45 PM
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A pilot died in suburban New Jersey on Tuesday after a small plane plunged into a two-story home, the NTSB confirms to PEOPLE.

Firefighters rushed to extinguish the blaze in Colonia, New Jersey, where a Cessna 414A plane crashed, sparking a fire that engulfed the home and damaged adjacent buildings.

The family of three that lives in the home was not there at the time of the accident, WLNY reported.

The pilot was the only person inside the plane at the time, NJ.com reported.

Footage from the scene, taken by Facebook user Michael Yonone, shows massive flames shooting out from windows on both floors and debris covering the ground in the back of the home, which seemingly exploded on impact.

Firefighters were able to bring the fire under control around 12:30 and extinguished it at 2 p.m., WLNY reported.

“The plane grazed a bunch of trees and one house, and then went straight down into another house, and that house was pretty much instantly destroyed,” Woodridge Township Mayor John E. McCormac tells PEOPLE. “The fuel and the explosion just destroyed the house instantly. Thank God no one was in there.”

“The best news possible today is that nobody was hurt on the ground,” he added.

The NTSB tells PEOPLE an investigation is underway.

WNBC reported that visibility for aircraft dropped from 10 miles to two miles around 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

Neighbors said the plane may have had engine trouble just before the crash.

“It sounded really low, it started to sputter a little bit,” an unidentified neighbor told WNBC. “All of a sudden there was this huge explosion, or just this big bang, louder than any car crash I’ve ever heard.”

Another neighbor, speaking to NJ.com, said the family that occupies the home burst into tears when they arrived shortly after the accident.

“They actually both started crying immediately when they started talking,” the neighbor said.

“It felt like someone had driven into the front of my house because the whole thing shook,” Joy Cutera, who lives in the area, told the outlet. “I was trying to see what it was, then I smelled smoke. I was getting ready to call the police because I thought it was something in my house.”

According to NJ.com, the plane initially departed Leesburg Executive Airport in Loudoun County, Virginia, Tuesday morning.

The Cessna 414A has a wingspan of 44 feet, a length of 36 feet and can carry up to seven passengers, according to Global Air.