Small plane crashes in South Carolina neighborhood in fog

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A small plane crashed into a neighborhood in thick fog and set a house on fire near an airport in the South Carolina capital on Wednesday.
A woman in the house appeared to have escaped the accident, although Columbia Fire Department chief Aubrey Jenkins may have the woman scratched by her cats while trying to get her to safety.
There was no immediate word about the fate of the people on the plane.
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The single-engine Beechcraft BE-33 crashed just before 11 a.m., about a mile from Jim Hamilton-L.B. Owens Airport, which handles non-commercial aircraft in Colombia, said the authorities.
The plane hit nearby trees and then hit the roof of the house before hitting the ground, Jenkins said. The impact left a large hole in the roof of the house and the firefighters were able to control the fire within minutes, the department said.
Jenkins said he did not know if the plane was on fire before the crash.
Richland County's medical examiner Naida Rutherford was on the scene in the Rosewood neighborhood of Columbia but didn't want to immediately tell if anyone had died.
Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook asked anyone living in the area to share personal surveillance footage from surveillance cameras that may have captured the crash.
A neighbor said the woman in the house and the rest of the people in the ward seemed fine.
The woman had just finished remodeling her home and was concerned that her three cats were safe, said Amy Koon.
The neighborhood can hear a lot of planes flying overhead, she said.
"I'm out a lot, you'll hear planes and they'll sound like they're starting to stutter and you think, 'oh god,'" said Koon, a lifelong resident of the area. "But I just don't remember planes that flew down here when I was a kid."
The plane appeared to be trying to land at the airport, and investigators didn't immediately know where the flight came from, Jenkins said.
The federal investigators were on their way to the crash site, the authorities said.
The aircraft affected was a single-engine Beechcraft BE-33, according to Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Bergen said the National Transportation Safety Board would, by default, be responsible for investigating and determining the likely cause of the crash.
According to FlightAware, a five-seat 1973 Beechcraft BE-33 took off from an airport in downtown Greenville on Wednesday and was scheduled to arrive at Owens Field at 10:43 a.m.
FAA records show the aircraft has been registered with Enviro-Tec Air LLC of Wilmington, Delaware since 2006.
According to NTSB records, the plane was involved in an incident in 2009 when one of the wings was damaged when the pilot failed to properly lower the landing gear at a Rock Hill airport after a flight from Greenville.
Fog reduced visibility around the airport to 400 meters at the time of the crash, according to the National Weather Service.
Meg Kinnard can be reached on Twitter at

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