LOS ANGELES - A small jet crashed during takeoff from a surburban airport Friday, killing two people, authorities said. A witness said a nose compartment door was open as it lifted off.
Remains of two people were located in the burned wreckage, said Fire Department spokesman Ron Myers.
The twin-engine Cessna Citation jet had only its two crew members aboard, said Joe Miller, a dispatcher with Sun Quest Executive Air Charter, which operated the flight.
The jet went down in a lot near a street just north of Van Nuys Airport in the San Fernando Valley just before 11 a.m. Firefighters sprayed foam and quickly put out the fire. A nearby property was surrounded by parked cars. There appeared to be one car amid the wreckage.
It was heading to Long Beach, about 25 miles south of Los Angeles, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor.
Gregor said the pilot encountered some kind of emergency and crashed before being able to make it back to the airport.
The plane's left-hand nose baggage door was ``wide open'' as it took off, said witness Steve Purwin, a corporate jet pilot with 25 years experience.
The jet was ``auguring,'' or veering side to side, with its nose high at a low speed, he told The Associated Press.
``He was right on the verge of stall,'' Purwin said.
The plane then went into a right bank before crashing, he said.
Purwin noted that the baggage compartment had appeared to be empty and that if something had flown out it could have caused the left engine to flame out or hit the tail and cause control problems.
However, he said, he only saw the compartment door open and did not see anything come out.
Edward Reynolds, 83, whose home is just feet from the crash site, and was in his backyard when he saw the plane go down. The plane was at an angle moments before it crashed and its wing was just above the sidewalk, he said.
``The right wing hit a block wall and tumbled from there,'' he said. ``The plane was in the air at an angle, but there was nowhere to go but down.''
Van Nuys is the busiest general aviation airport in the nation, with an average of nearly 500,000 takeoffs and landings annually. The 730-acre facility is owned by the city's Los Angeles World Airports department and is used by private, corporate, charter, flight instruction and maintenance operations.
KFWB News-News,Traffic,Dodgers - Crews Put Out Fire Shortly After Crash; Cessna Citation Holds Up to 10 People