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1 dead in Aspen plane crash

4:57 PM, Jan 5, 2014   |    comments
Crews are at the scene of a plane crash at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport. The crash occurred sometime after noon as the plane was attempting to land. (Photo: Jay Sills via KUSA)
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By John Bacon and Raquel Villanueva

A private plane crashed and burned Sunday at an airport in Aspen, Colo., the Federal Aviation Administration said.

Colorado authorities said that one person died, and two people were injured, one severely, according to the Associated Press. The three were the only ones aboard the plane, said Thomas Wright, a dispatcher with the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office, the AP reported.

Emergency crews were at the scene at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, which was closed after the crash at 12:30 p.m. MT, the FAA said.

The Aviation Safety Network, citing Pitkin County Sheriff officials, said the plane "came to rest upside down on runway 15. A fire erupted."

FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer said the plane appeared to be a twin-engine Bombardier Challenger 600 en route to from Tucson, Ariz., to Aspen, about 100 miles southwest of Denver.

Jay Sills, 35, who was at the airport, said he saw the plane moments after it crashed.

"I just saw a huge plume of smoke," Sills said . "I came around the corner and the plane was upside down, rocking back and forth, next to the runway."

Sills says it appeared the cabin was still intact. He says a firetruck was on scene almost immediately after crash.

Comedian Kevin Nealon tweeted from the scene: "Horrible plane crash here at Aspen airport. Exploded into flames as it was landing. I think it was a private jet."

Later he tweeted: "Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles still at scene. No word on survivors or who was on jet but I can't imagine there are survivors."

Singer LeAnn Rimes tweeted: "So sad! Horrible plane crash we just saw happen at the Aspen airport."

Villanueva reports for KUSA-TV in Denver. Contributing: William M. Welch, USA TODAY

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