By Daniel Trotta and Jiawei Wang
(Reuters) – A small plane crashed and demolished a mobile home on Thursday in Clearwater, Florida, likely killing the pilot, as firefighters worked to determine if there were any victims on the ground, officials said and media.
Images posted online by the Clearwater Fire and Rescue Department showed flames and smoke billowing from the destroyed home.
The pilot radioed a Mayday distress call, WTSP news reported, citing Clearwater Fire Chief Scott Ehlers.
One person on the ground was slightly injured and refused treatment, said Ehlers, who believed the pilot was dead based on reports at the scene.
A total of four homes were damaged in the mobile home park where the accident occurred, he said.
“Our most important thing right now is trying to determine if there are any other victims. A mobile home doesn’t hold up to much in the first place, so the plane pretty much demolished it. The fire consumed the rest,” Ehlers said. according to WFLA television.
Neighbor Steven Ascari, who posted video of the scene on social media, said first responders arrived quickly and put out the flames within half an hour.
“We heard an explosion outside that shook the entire apartment and, immediately afterward, a huge column of smoke was seen,” Ascari said.
Clearwater is a city of about 117,000 people located on the Gulf Coast, about 25 miles west of Tampa.
Fire officials reported the first call came in at 7:08 p.m. EST (0008 GMT Friday) Thursday.
Flight tracking website FlightAware reported that a Beechcraft 35 Bonanza had left Vero Beach Regional Airport on Florida’s east coast about an hour before the crash, heading to Clearwater Air Park. Local media identified this plane as the one that crashed.
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California, and Jiawei Wang in Beijing; editing by Tom Hogue)