Small plane crashes into building in downtown Anchorage, 1 reported dead

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A small plane has flown into a commercial building in Anchorage, Alaska. Although the building appeared to be unoccupied at the time of the crash, at least one person has been killed, the fire department reported.

The pilot’s death has been confirmed, but authorities do not know how many people were on board the craft when it crashed into the Brady Building, a 9,000-square-foot office building. The plane struck about four stories from the ground, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

The Brady Building contains the Alaska Departments of Law and Corrections and the District Attorney's Office.

Pieces from the plane then hit an electrical transformer on the outside of a second building, Anchorage Fire Department Battalion Chief Alex Boyd told KTUU. Authorities were forced to shut off power to the area.

The crash occurred at 6:19 a.m. local time on Tuesday, and the Brady Building was fully engulfed in flames within three minutes, Anchorage Police spokeswoman Anita Shell told the Alaska Dispatch News.

The fire was quickly contained, KTVA reported.

"I seen the plane coming in and it did a total complete turn and then boom" Thomas Connell, who witnessed the crash, told the Anchorage-based newspaper.

"It flew over us twice and then crashed," Connell said. "It was just way low, and then it started sinking on in."

Mike Coumbe, who lives a few blocks away, also witnessed the plane going down. He said it appeared to have Civil Air Patrol markings.

"I heard it circling and I knew it was having problems," Coumbe told the Alaska Dispatch News. "I heard the plane and tried to see the plane and I heard it hit it just stopped."

The National Transportation Safety Board’s Clint Johnson confirmed that the plane was a Civil Air Patrol flight, but told reporters that the flight appeared to be unsanctioned.

The Civilian Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the US Air Force, with three primary missions, aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services, according to its website.

The plane is believed to be a Cessna 172 or 180 with a single occupant, Johnson said. A flight plan hadn’t been filed.

Anchorage police “made contact with Civil Air Patrol management," Johnson said. "There were no sanctioned flights scheduled at this time."

The crash occurred approximately two miles from Merrill Field, a municipal commercial airport just east of downtown Anchorage. It is also about halfway between Ted Stevens International Airport and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which is home to both an Air Force base and an Army post.

The Alaska Wing of the Civil Air Patrol has three units based in the Anchorage area, one of which ‒ the Polaris Composite Squadron ‒ is out of Merrill Field, according to its website.