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Fiery Plane Crash Burns Home Near Chicago

Footage of the scene showed the house badly burned on one side with debris scattered across the street

(Published Friday, July 22, 2016)

A pilot was killed when a small plane crashed in a southwest Chicago suburb Thursday morning, burning a home in the residential area, according to authorities.

The Joliet Police Department said the plane crashed in the 1800 block of Hampton Court near Chestnut Hill Road and Bedford Drive in Plainfield around 11:15 a.m.

No one was hurt inside the home and the Federal Aviation Administration said there were no injuries on the ground. It remained unclear how many people were inside the plane, but Jim Hock, the city manager for Joliet, said the pilot was killed.

"Beyond the pilot, we have no idea if anybody was in the plane," he said. 

Homeowner Patti Daniel said she was sitting in her family room watching TV when the crash happened.

"I heard some loud noise, some backfiring, very loud. I didn't know if it was a motorcycle or a car. Then it got really loud," she said. "The next thing I knew the whole side of the dining room blew open."

The National Transportation Safety Board reported someone associated with the pilot said he was by himself in the plane. The flight took off from Florida, stopped in Tennessee and was traveling to Wisconsin when the crash happened. 

Hock said the city was "very fortunate" that no other injuries have been reported in the crash.

Footage of the scene showed the house badly burned on one side with debris scattered across the street.

"I could the one engine just grinding, grinding, grinding so I guess the pilot was trying to pull up and take off on the throttle, but he couldn't get it back up and just went faster and faster, tailspinning to the groun," said witness Gene Williams. "I had never seen anything like it. I've never seen a plane just lose control, tailspinning straight down as fast as it was going."

Officials said they believe fuel from the plane sparked the fire, but an investigation remained ongoing.

"I thought a car had come through [my house]," Daniel said. "I expected to see the front half of the car into my dining room. I didn't see that. I saw all flames."

Reports that a plane crashed near Route 59 and Theodore in the Brighton Lakes subdivision of Plainfield first surfaced on social media just before 11:30 a.m. 

Photos appeared to show a home with damage and emergency crews covering the area. 

"I heard this explosion," said Lisa Guardiola, who lives next to the damaged home. "Like thunder, but 10 times louder than that. It was very scary. I just kept tihnking that it could have been our house, or my kids could have been outside."

It was not immediately clear what caused the plane to crash or if there were any injuries.

Check back for details on this developing story.