By: Jackson Cote
More details are emerging surrounding the plane crash in Keene, New Hampshire that left the sole two people on board dead and eight more adults on the ground displaced Friday evening.
At a press conference Saturday morning, city officials detailed how the small plane, a single-engine Beechcraft Sierra, just moments after taking off from Keene Dillant-Hopkins Airport, crashed into the attached garage of a multi-family residential building at 661 Main St. around 6:45 p.m., starting a fire that eventually grew to three alarms. The blaze was extinguished roughly three hours laters through the efforts of multiple area fire departments.
The only two people on the plane died in the crash, authorities said. The Keene Police Department notified their families Friday evening, but their identities have yet to be released to the public.
“I want to first and foremost express the city of Keene’s sympathies to the family members of those who passed away,” Mayor George S. Hansel said at a press conference Saturday morning. “I also want to right off the bat thank members of our first responders, both with the Keene Fire Department and our partner agencies in the surrounding area, part of the Fire Mutual Aid Network. They did an exceptional, exceptional job of getting this emergency under control quickly last night, and I’m certain that their efforts contributed to no further loss of life or injuries other than those who were on the plane.”
Nobody inside the multi-family, two-story home the aircraft crashed into were injured, despite a total of eight adults living in the four apartments in the building and each of the units being occupied at the time of the crash. All of the residents were displaced from their homes due to the extent of the damage from the collision, according to a statement from City Manager Elizabeth Dragon.
Roughly 20% of the back of the building was significantly damaged, and the entire structure will remain uninhabited until it can be further assessed, the statement said. In the meantime, the American Red Cross has helped relocate the displaced residents, according to the mayor.
“The city of Keene and Dillant-Hopkins Airport are very interested and committed to finding out exactly what happened here,” Hansel said.
The aircraft — which was owned by Monadnock Aviation, an aviation services business in Keene — departed northbound from Dillant-Hopkins Airport on runway 02-20. The collision took place shortly after liftoff, with the plane crashing into the building just north of the airport, near the Hope Chapel church, according to officials.
The Federal Aviation Administration, New Hampshire Department of Transportation and National Transportation Safety Board were at the crash site, and the NTSB will serve as the lead agency investigating the collision, the city manager said in her statement.
“It is very early in the process at this point. Further information regarding the accident will be made public when it is released by the NTSB,” the statement noted.
It is too early to tell what caused the crash, the mayor added at the press conference. Officials have yet to publicly disclose some key details about the people who were on the plane, including their identities and aviation experience.
“We’re really not in a position to report anything on the passengers,” said David Hickling, the director of the airport. “It’s very early. I mean, it’s just hours. With the FAA and DOT just getting on site and the NTSB isn’t here yet, it’s really just way too early to speculate.”
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