5 die in small airplane crash near Little Rock factory

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Five people died when a small airplane crashed near a Little Rock factory on Wednesday shortly after taking off, authorities said.

The twin-engine plane crashed outside a 3M plant in Little Rock, a couple of miles south of Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Cody Burk said. The Federal Aviation Administration said five people were on board the plane.

The Beech BE20 had departed the Little Rock airport and was headed to John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, Ohio, the FAA said.

Burk did not immediately release the names or ages of the people on the plane. The FAA said it and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

The crash occurred as a line of thunderstorms that the National Weather Service said included wind gusts of 40 miles (64 kilometers) an hour moved through the Little Rock area. Burk said it would be up to investigators to determine if weather was a factor.

Nearby residents said they saw an intense fire from the crash.

Dennis Gordon told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette he was standing on a street nearby the crash when he heard the wind pick up and then an explosion. Gordon told the paper that several smaller explosions followed, and then a huge fire.

“It was just red, then it starts turning black, and there’s this burnt smell,” Gordon told the paper.

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