A jet struck a building and crashed near a small airport Monday, killing two crew members and sparking a fire that sent thick, black smoke spewing into the air, authorities said.
Police said no passengers were aboard the Learjet 35 when it went down around 3:30 p.m. ET about a quarter mile (400 meters) from the runway at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, just west of New York City. No one on the ground was reported to have been injured.
Emergency responders worked for more than an hour to extinguish the blaze.
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Mayor Craig Lahullier said all town employees already had left for the day before the plane crashed near its public workers building.
"I tell ya, it's a miracle," he said. "Thank God the guys were out of there, that's all I can say."
Town spokesman Joe Orlando said pieces of melted engine could be seen in the charred wreckage, along with wheels and part of the fuselage. Witnesses said they heard loud popping noises, apparently from car tires exploding in the heat and flames.
Orlando had left the Department of Public Works building, next to where the plane crashed, about 15 minutes before it hit. When he returned, he saw the plane's engines on the ground.
"If this had happened 20 minutes earlier, people would have been at their cars," he said. "That was the first thing I thought of: 'I was just right there.'
"You could see the fan blades, the landing gear. Car tires were blown off, there were explosions. It's something out of a movie."
Mark Dykstra, who lives across the street from the crash site, told NJ.com he felt the impact of the crash.
"We were sitting in our building, and we felt the whole building shake," he said. "We went outside, and there was black smoke. Thick black smoke."
Steve Case, an entrepreneur and co-founder of AOL who was aboard another plane at the airport waiting to take off, wrote in an Instagram post that the plane appeared to have missed a turn.