A small plane crashed into a house and hopscotched into the backyard of another in a Pompano Beach neighborhood Monday afternoon, touching off a fire that critically injured the plane’s three occupants and prompted neighbors to quickly step in to help, officials and witnesses said.
Those in the plane suffered “significant burns,” Pompano Beach Fire Rescue Chief John Jurgle said. “They were all severe burn injuries, between 30 and 40 percent of their body,” Jurgle said.
No one on the ground was hurt. The crash happened about 3 p.m. EDT. During the fire, neighbors helped the survivors until firefighters arrived, Jurgle said.
Rita Pizzo was having lunch with her son when they heard a loud “boom,” she said. Her son, Mason Pizzo, ran across the street to help their neighbor as his house caught fire, she said. Pizzo said her son ran back to the house, grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran back to try and help with the flames.
“He told me to stay inside because of the smoke,” she said. “He continued to see where he could help.”
Larry Ferris was washing his car on his driveway when he said he saw a plane fall out of the sky and toward a house. “I saw the plane blow up in the backyard,” he said. “I ran across street and grabbed a garden hose.”
Ferris said the people in the plane were badly burned. “One of them said, ‘Please help me, I’m on fire,’” Ferris recalled.
A woman and two men were in the plane, said Sandra King, spokeswoman for Pompano Beach Fire Rescue. The fire department was called about 3 p.m.
“Eleven units responded. When they arrived, they found one house engulfed in flames in the back half of the house and, two houses over, a plane that was also involved in flames,” Jurgle said.
The homeowner was not injured in the crash, Jurgle said. He got out of the house before firefighters arrived, Jurgle said.
The plane’s occupants were taken to either Broward Health Medical Center or North Broward Health, he said.
Two of those inside the aircraft were able to walk from the crash, while a third may have been thrown from the plane when it collided with the house, Jurgle said. That report pertaining to the third person was from a bystander and still was being investigated, the official said.
The crash happened in the Harbor Village neighborhood of single-family homes.
Aerial images showed the fixed wing, multi-engine Beechcraft 76 in pieces in the backyard of a home, near a pool.
Pompano Beach Fire Rescue emergency trucks choked neighborhood streets.
The white plane with a navy stripe along the fuselage is owned by a corporation based in Cheyenne, Wyo., according to the Federal Aviation Administration aircraft registry.
The FAA said preliminary information about the aircraft shows it crashed shortly after departing from the Pompano Beach Airpark at 3 p.m.
The pilot was practicing takeoffs and landings before the accident, an FAA spokeswoman said.
The FAA is investigating the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause for it.
Smoke from the crash could be seen from 10 miles south, in Fort Lauderdale.