No Survivors Found As Plane Crashes and Bursts Into Flames After Takeoff

( – A plane crash near Fairbanks, Alaska killed two pilots, the only occupants of the plane, on Tuesday, April 23rd.

The plane, a military Douglas C-54 that had been converted into a cargo plane, was carrying 3200 gallons of fuel oil to be delivered to Kabuk, a remote native Inupiat village of less than 200 people. Just after taking off a pilot radioed to air traffic control that there was a “fire on board” without indicating the location of the fire. The pilot said they were returning immediately to Fairbanks International Airport. There was no further communication with the plane and all tracking data was lost. The plane was also carrying 1300 gallons of aviation fuel in its fuel tanks.

The vintage warplane crashed “downhill on a bluff” alongside the Tanana River according to Clint Johnson, the Alaskan chief of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The location of the crash has hampered recovery efforts, but they were scheduled to resume on Wednesday. Firefighters responded to the crash site and were able to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby wildland.

The incident is still being investigated and witnesses are being interviewed in an attempt to learn more about what caused the crash. Mike Emers, a cannabis farmer, said he was working in his office when he heard an explosion before looking out the window to see the fiery plane plummeting to the ground. Security video footage from the farm showed the engine closest to the fuselage exploding just before the plane went down. Emers was not able to make contact with 911 services, so he reported the crash to the State Troopers dispatch line.

Gary Contento, another witness, said he heard two explosions before seeing a fire on the river ice, then a “fireball to beat all fireballs” as another explosion rocked the downed plane.

The names of the deceased pilots will not be released until the remains have been positively identified.

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