GROTON, Conn. (AP) – A small airplane crashed into three homes Monday and set two on fire before landing in a river, killing both people on board, police and aviation officials said.

The plane slammed into the homes in the Poquonock River Bridge section of Groton while approaching a nearby airport. Everyone in the homes escaped, Fire Marshall Michael Richards said.

“People were running down street, and all I could see was blazing fire and smoke and people running up and down the street,” said Pauleatha Glover, 55. “It was en explosion, you know, I thought somebody had blown up the Poquonock River Bridge.”

Nobody on the ground was seriously hurt, but one woman who jumped from a window of her one-story home was being treated for minor injuries, officials said.

Ross Finlayson, 17, said he saw the plane hit the houses and “spin into the boardwalk.”

“It started like cartwheeling into the boardwalk,” Finlayson told WVIT-TV. “It hit the boardwalk and just flipped over into the other side of the river. It caught the river on fire. There was an explosion.”

The Learjet went down about a half-mile from the runway at Groton-New London Airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said. He said it had taken off from Farmingdale Republic Airport on New York’s Long Island.

Catherine Young, the Groton airport’s manager, said the plane was on its second approach when it went down. The crash happened 20 minutes before the tower opened, and airport officials were using recordings of air-to-ground communication to piece together what happened, she said.

“The pilots announced something about coming to the airport, but it was garbled,” she said.

The FAA and state Department of Environmental Protection were on the scene.

The plane is registered to Jetpro LLC, a corporation based at New Hyde Park, N.Y.


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