Report: Smoke cut visibility during fatal Alaska plane crash

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Thick wildfire smoke obscured visibility in all directions when a plane crash killed three people on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, investigators said.

    A National Transportation Safety Board report said the smoke came from the Swan Lake Fire in the region, The Anchorage Daily News reported.

    The Maule M-6-235 aircraft flew into the side of a mountain on the north side of Tern Lake June 28, authorities said.

    The crash southwest of Anchorage killed 73-year-old pilot Scott Christy and his 73-year-old wife Jean Tam, as well as 29-year-old passenger Suzanne Glass.

    The only survivor was 28-year-old passenger Andrea Joy Cooper. She was in good condition at Providence Alaska Medical Center on Thursday, the hospital said.

    Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the airplane on the day of the accident, the report said.

    Federal Aviation Administration weather cameras about 7 miles (11 kilometers) southeast of the accident site showed reduced visibility in all directions due to smoke or haze, the report said.

    The report included the account of a witness who told a federal investigator he was near the intersection of the Seward and Sterling highways just after 4 p.m. when he heard an airplane fly over. Fifteen seconds later, all sound from the plane ceased, the man said.

    "He said that the smoke from a nearby wildfire was very thick in the valley," investigator Brice Banning wrote, describing vertical visibility of about 100 feet (30 meters) and estimated horizontal visibility of about a quarter-mile (0.4 kilometers).

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