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3 killed in plane crash

LAWRENCEVILLE - At least three people were killed in a Christmas Day plane crash, and firefighters were searching for other possible passengers late Monday.

Lt. Craig Stanley, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Fire Department, said one man and two women were killed when a twin-engine Chancellor Z-414 airplane crashed in a dirt parking lot near the county's Briscoe Field about 8:40 p.m.

The three passengers were ejected from the plane at the CWM Contracting Co.'s plant 28 near the intersection of U.S. Highway 29 and Boulderbrook Circle in Lawrenceville, Stanley said. He did not know if there had been other passengers on the plane, which he said could hold 10 people.

"There was a fire, obviously a lot of wreckage, a lot of debris in the area," Stanley said.

Stanley said the plane's male pilot had radioed to the airport's air traffic control tower to confirm his approach and had intended to land at Gwinnett County Airport at Briscoe Field. The air traffic controller called 911 after seeing an orange glow in the distance, Stanley said.

"The air traffic controller no longer saw him on the radar," he said.

The plane originated from Pembroke Pines, Fla. It was traveling from the east.

A wheel from the plane was visible among the debris, and Stanley said it appeared as if the plane had hit some construction equipment at the crash site.

Stanley said the National Transportation Safety Board had been notified of the crash, but would not arrive at the scene until today. A copy of the plane's flight plan had been filed with the agency, he said.

Stanley estimated that the plane had landed 75 yards from the airport's runway. He said there had not been any sort of distress call before it crashed.

The victims had not been identified as of press time Monday, and Stanley said he did not know their ages or if they were from the area.

"Certainly, events of this nature are tragic," he said. "That's especially true on Christmas."