CLEARWATER, Florida -- A 72-year-old Florida man was drifting off to sleep when he heard an "unbelievable roar" and was thrown to the floor covered in insulation and broken glass, narrowly surviving the deadly crash of a small plane that ripped apart his mobile home and destroyed the trailer next door.
The pilot and two people on the ground were killed when the single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza V35 crashed into the Bayside Waters mobile home park around 7 p.m. Thursday, authorities said.
The plane's pilot reported engine failure shortly before the aircraft went down, the Federal Aviation Administration reported Friday.
Firefighters couldn't immediately tell how many people were inside the double-wide mobile home where the plane ultimately crash-landed, sending the structure up in flames. But the FAA confirmed Friday that two people died in the home.
"The aircraft was found in the one structure," Clearwater Fire Chief Scott Ehlers said during a late night news conference.
The pilot reported an emergency to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport shortly before the plane went off radar, about 3 miles north of a runway, Ehlers said. The airport is about 7 miles southeast of Clearwater.
Joe Miller, who was wrapped in a blanket and still shaking hours after the crash, told the Tampa Bay Times he scrambled through the wreckage of his mobile home, which was ripped apart by the explosion, and was greeted outside by leaping flames from the home next door.
Mary Fagan, 63, who lives down the street, told the newspaper that her mother used to own the double-wide. She said another family member who lives in Illinois now owns the home, and she believes people had been staying there.
Fagan said neighbors called her Thursday evening, saying "Your mom's mobile is on fire."
She said she rushed to the scene, and joined other neighbors as they watched firefighters douse the flames.
After eight years in the mobile home, in a large 55-plus community off U.S. 19, Miller told the newspaper he has no idea what he'll do now.
"The roof's blown off and I don't know what's left inside. I just know I'm lucky to be here," he said.
Associated Press contributors include Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale.