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Salford man describes moment plane hit his house

Plane crash site
Image caption The plane crashed into Colin Maher's semi-detached house at 12:20 BST

A man has described the moment a light aircraft crashed into his Salford home, leaving two men critically injured.

Colin Maher said he could hear one man shouting for help after the plane burst into flames after hitting two houses.

The pilot and passenger, one in his late 50s and the other aged 21, are in Wythenshawe Hospital, where the older man is said to be very critical.

The crash was in Newlands Avenue, Peel Green, at about 12:20 BST on Friday.

The plane, operated by Ravenair flying school, was on fire as it took off from Barton Aerodrome, the BBC understands.

Mr Maher, who has only lived in the house for six months, rushed out of his home and saw the plane's tail end on fire.

Image caption Colin Maher said he could hear one man shouting for help

"As I ran into the garden there was fuel around my feet which ignited around me, I heard a man shouting for help and just put a hosepipe on him," he said.

"The upstairs is completely collapsed in on itself and the roof is hanging down over the sidewalls, they're just waiting for it to be pulled down."

The family are staying at a hotel for the forseable future while builders decide how to secure the property.

Some residents living near the crash site said such incidents were a constant worry.

Lyn Browning, who witnessed the crash, said: "Lots of us round here have problems because of the aircraft taking off and landing and the way they come over the flats."

Emergency accommodation

Local councillor and Salford Council deputy leader David Lancaster said: "The airport was here before the houses but that doesn't mean we don't have some concerns."

He said a number of families had spent the night in emergency accommodation.

Emergency crews described how people nearby, including a man who had been in one of the homes hit by the plane, helped put out flames after the crash.

The older man in the plane suffered 70% burns while the younger man had 60% burns.

Image caption The plane hit the upper floor of one of the houses

Mark Frimston, who lives in nearby flats, said the noise of the crash was "as if a bomb went off".

He said that when he went outside he "could see the plane embedded into the side of a house".

Another eyewitness, John Kavanagh, 56, said his "blood turned cold" as the explosion ripped through the area.

He said: "It felt like everything shook - the houses and cars - and then smoke rose up high into the sky. I thought it was a gas explosion.

"The people that survived this have had a miracle escape."

Investigation under way

In a statement, Ravenair said: "Our primary concern is for the welfare of the two persons on board the aircraft and their family and friends.

"We wish to express our gratitude and thanks to all of the emergency services and general public who assisted in the initial moments of the accident."

The Liverpool-based company posted a note on its website in May saying it was winding up its operations at the airport on 31 July.

It stated: "The decision was made as a result of a review of the commercial viability at the site due to costs and a reduction in business."

A spokesperson for the aerodrome said on Friday: "A Piper PA38 Tomahawk single-engine light aircraft with two people on board took off from City Airport [Barton Aerodrome] at 12:19 BST today.

"After take-off, the aircraft flew a short distance before coming down in Newlands Avenue, Salford."

A spokesperson for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said a team was deployed to the crash site and an investigation was under way.

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