CORONA (CNS) - Four people were killed today when a single-engine airplane crashed just northeast of Corona Municipal Airport, triggering a fire.
The Beech Bonanza went down shortly after noon as the pilot was trying to depart Runway 7 at the non-towered airport.
According to Corona police, fire crews reached the crash site within 10 minutes and found the plane engulfed in flames, which were doused after burning about a quarter-acre of brush. No homes or other structures were in the immediate vicinity.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the cause of the crash.
A Corona Fire Department spokesman said the Bonanza had been topped off with gasoline, suggesting that with all four seats occupied, it may have been overloaded. The plane hit a fence after rising only a few feet from the runway surface, causing it to cartwheel onto vacant property owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Dorothe Voll, a pilot, told the Press-Enterprise that the ill-fated aviator ``didn't pull back, and he was too fast at the end of the runway.''
``He flipped, and everybody was running, and it started on fire,'' Voll said. ``Then you had two explosions ... We brought over fire extinguishers, but it was all engulfed.''
The victims were not immediately identified.
A preliminary report on the crash will likely be available next week.