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Teterboro Airport crash: 2 dead after Learjet hits building

Two crew members were killed Monday when a business jet crashed into a building near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, investigators said. 

The Learjet 35 was approaching a runway at the airport in Carlstadt when it crashed at about 3:30 p.m., according to a Federal Aviation Administration statement. Teterboro is less than 10 miles west of New York City.

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There were no other passengers on board.

The plane was registered in Billings, Mont., to a company called A&C Big Sky Aviation, which has a residential address. The owners of the residence are Daniel and Julane Wells.

The plane crashed about a quarter mile from the airport in an industrial area, sparking a fire that sent thick, black smoke spewing into the air.

The airport was closed after the crash. Departing flights resumed in the evening, but no arriving flights were allowed.

Mayor Craig Lahullier said all town employees already had left for the day before the plane crashed next to its Department of Public Works building.

"I tell ya, it's a miracle," he said. "Thank God the guys were out of there, that's all I can say."

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Town spokesman Joe Orlando said pieces of melted engine could be seen in the charred wreckage, along with wheels and part of the fuselage. Witnesses said they heard loud popping noises, apparently from car tires exploding in the heat and flames.

Orlando had left the public works building about 15 minutes before the plane hit. When he returned, he saw the plane's engines on the ground.

"If this had happened 20 minutes earlier, people would have been at their cars," he said. "That was the first thing I thought of: `I was just right there.' You could see the fan blades, the landing gear. Car tires were blown off."

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The National Weather Service warned of strong winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 45 mph just before the plane went down.

A Carlstadt police spokesman said the jet appeared to be listing to its side before it went down.

Steve Case, an entrepreneur and co-founder of AOL, wrote in an Instagram post that the plane appeared to have missed a turn and crashed a few hundred yards from the airport. He was aboard another plane at the airport at the time.

The jet had flown from Teterboro to Bedford, Massachusetts, early Monday morning. It then flew to Philadelphia later Monday morning before leaving for Teterboro around 3 p.m.

Teterboro, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the oldest operating airport in the New York City area. Situated in a densely populated area just north of MetLife Stadium, where the NFL's New York Jets and New York Giants play, it is the scene of dozens of takeoffs and landings each day and is a favorite landing spot for corporate and other luxury jets.

The airport was the scene of a 2005 crash: A corporate jet failed to take off, crossed a busy highway and slammed into a warehouse. There were no fatalities, but more than 20 people suffered injuries.

In 2009, a plane taking off from Teterboro crashed into a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River, killing all nine people in the two aircrafts. A federal investigation later determined errors by an airport air traffic controller distracted by a personal phone call set the stage for the crash.

Fox News' Tamara Gitt and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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