EAGAR, Ariz. (AP) - A small plane nosedived into a high school
in a small eastern Arizona town Friday afternoon and exploded,
killing both people aboard, authorities said.
There were no reports of injuries on the ground. Classes are out
for the summer at the school, authorities said.
The Cessna circled the area two or three times before it
suddenly crashed into the main building at Round Valley High School
in Eagar at about 2 p.m., Apache County sheriff's Sgt. Richard
Show Low Fire Department spokesman Eric Neitzel said two people
aboard the plane were confirmed dead but their names and hometowns
were not immediately available.
There was no immediate word on who owned the plane and where it
was headed. But Neitzel said witnesses told authorities the Cessna
took off from nearby Springerville Airport and experienced some
sort of malfunction while it circled before veering into the school
Two hours after the crash, flames were still erupting 20 to 30
feet above the roof of the two-story school.
National Transportation Safety Board officials were expected at
the crash scene Saturday morning to handle the investigation,
according to Neitzel.
Fire crews from nearly a dozen small towns in the region raced
to battle the flames. Officials evacuated homes in neighborhoods
east and north of the school.
The school serves about 500 students in Eagar and nearby
Springerville and is about 200 miles east of Phoenix. The blaze was
contained to the main school building.
There was no indication that anyone was inside the school when
the plane crashed.
State Treasurer Dean Martin, who was in Eagar, said he and
others left their vehicles at the school before heading out on a
forest tour. They drove off just minutes before the plane hit and
looked in the rearview mirro to see smoke rising into the sky.
"Initially we thought someone tossed a cigarette butt," said
Martin, a state gubernatorial candidate. "But shortly after, there
was this massive fireball."
A Friday night event scheduled at the high school was moved to
Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.