CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – The pilot of a small plane was killed early Tuesday morning when his plane crashed in the front yards of several homes in a Centennial neighborhood.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

The pilot, identified as Daniel Lee Steitz, 55, had taken off from the Centennial Airport shortly before the crash. The plane was described as being a Cessna 404 belonging to Key Lime Air, a cargo and passenger charter company, at Centennial Airport.

According to Key Lime Air, Steitz was flying the empty plane to Denver International Airport for a pickup.

The plane crashed shortly before 4:30 a.m. in Jim Siffring’s yard located at 6695 South Billings Way.

“We were asleep … and all of a sudden a crash noise there was this was this huge crash noise,” Siffring said. “”My wife and I just want to say our condolences to the family … all this stuff is just stuff. It’s a person’s life that was lost here today.”

When firefighters arrived the plane was on fire, according to authorities.

Many residents said they heard something alarming — whether it was the plane apparently flying too low, or the nonstop sirens that came after. Neighbors said they knew something terrible had happened.

One resident said he ran out of his home to try to help the pilot but the heat from the flames was too intense and he couldn’t get close. He told CBS4 that because the neighborhood is so close to the airport they hear planes fly by all the time, but Tuesday morning the sounds were different.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“Planes fly over all the time, but this one here, it was just kind of unusual, the sound was just a little bit too loud,” the resident said. “All of sudden we just heard it hit the ground and heard that crash and it kind of shook the house a little bit. We looked out the window and you could see the smoke coming up … and then about 3 seconds later just a fire plume exploded.”

Nobody else was injured.

Steitz’s family has been notified.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash. They said the pilot reported to air traffic control that the plane’s engine lost power.

“It cartwheeled a couple of feet before it came to rest,” said Jennifer Rodi, and NTSB investigator.

The investigation could take as long as 10 months.

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