SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (AP) — A small, single-engine plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the airport on Lake Tahoe's south shore, and authorities say several people were killed.
The single-engine plane burst into flames upon impact late Saturday night in a wooded area near South Lake Tahoe, Calif., said El Dorado County sheriff's Lt. Pete Van Arnum. The crash started a 1-acre fire that took more than 90 minutes to put out, he said.
The aircraft is registered to Francisco J. Delamora, of Fresno, Calif.
Delamora is owner of Jdm Transport Inc., a trucking company based in Fresno, said Jose Lopez, a company dispatcher. Delamora took a "personal trip" to Lake Tahoe for the day Saturday with his wife, Lorena, a 7-year-old daughter and two friends, and had planned to return the same day, Lopez said.
"We're waiting to hear from the FAA," said Lopez, who has worked for the company 11 years. He declined further comment.
Much of the wreckage was destroyed by the fire, making identification of the plane and victims difficult, Arnum said. Authorities wouldn't release any information about the victims until positive identifications have been made, he said.
Witnesses say the plane had apparent engine problems and dipped downward while attempting a turn just north of Lake Tahoe Airport.
The same plane was involved in a 2005 non-injury crash in Destin, Fla., according to the National Transportation Safety Board. It had a different owner at the time.
The latest crash occurred near the same area where a 2007 wildfire destroyed more than 250 homes and caused more than $140 million in property damage.
"Thanks to the quick and cooperative efforts by multiple agencies, the fire caused by this crash was put out quickly," South Lake Tahoe Mayor Claire Fortier said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to the families of those that perished in this tragic accident."
Earlier Saturday, the 23rd annual Lake in the Sky Air Show was held at the same airport. But the aircraft involved in Saturday's crash was not affiliated with the air show, South Lake Tahoe officials said.
It will take months before the NTSB, the lead investigative agency, comes up with a probable cause of the crash. Basic preliminary reports usually are posted on the NTSB's website within a week or two of an accident.