Small Plane Crashes Into Minnesota Home, Killing Two Onboard

Image: A small plane crash in Sauk Rapids, Minn.
A small plane crash in Sauk Rapids, Minn.Courtesy of Ross Olsen

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Federal officials on Saturday will investigate why a small sightseeing plane crashed into a Minnesota home, killing two people on board and starting a fierce fire Friday night, police said.

The single-engine private aircraft crashed into the house in Sauk Rapids just after 8 p.m. local time, forcing one man inside to escape through an upstairs window.

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“It’s surreal,” the homeowner, Jeffrey Hille, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. He said his brother-in-law, Kole Heckendorf, 27, was in an upstairs bedroom when he heard an explosion.

“There was just flames, with smoke,” Hille said his brother-in-law told him, according to the newspaper. “He jumped out the second-story window.”

Witness said the plane that crashed into the house had followed a larger plane, which was also flying low.

A small plane crash in Sauk Rapids, Minn.Courtesy of Ross Olsen

The crash site is about 70 miles north of Minneapolis, near St Cloud.

Police said the Sauk Rapids Fire Department was helped by crews from the nearby Sartell Fire Department to extinguish the blaze. The fire was so dangerous that firefighters could not immediately get into the house to search for any passengers in the plane.

“Several police agencies assisted with the initial investigation,” the Sauk Rapids Police Department said in a statement. “The victims were recovered from the residence and the Benton County Medical Examiner's Office will conduct an investigation into the cause of death.”

The victims who died in the crash were on a sightseeing trip, according to the police department. Their identities were not immediately released.

The statement added that the National Transportation and Safety Board and FAA investigators will begin their investigation in Sauk Rapids on Saturday to try to determine the cause of the crash.

— Alastair Jamieson and Niven McCall-Mazza