ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The bodies of four people killed when a small airplane crashed Wednesday and burst into flames have been recovered from a heavily wooded area north of Anchorage, officials said.
The airplane crashed shortly after takeoff from Birchwood Airport, a small plane facility about 20 miles north of downtown Anchorage. The accident happened just after 9 a.m., police said.
The post-crash fire “takes away a lot of our evidence,” Shaun Williams, a National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said at a news conference. “There was quite a bit of fire damage.”
Among those killed were the pilot, George Kobelnyk, 64, and co-pilot, Christian Bohrer, 20, Anchorage police said in a statement. Police initially said Kobelnyk was 54 years old.
Also killed were the two passengers, Sarah Glaves, 36, and Kyle Braun, 27. Hometowns weren’t immediately available.
The crash initially sparked concerns about a possible wildfire, but Anchorage Fire Chief Denis LeBlanc said the blaze was contained to the location.
Police got a call from a citizen who said they thought they heard a plane crashing near a road.
“A few moments later, they observed smoke,” Anchorage police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said.
The plane’s destination wasn’t immediately known.
The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.