2 dead after small plane crashes in Whitehorse

The Cessna 170B aircraft was taking off for Anchorage, Alaska.

Cessna 170B was taking off for Anchorage

Crews make their way to the scene of a downed plane near the Whitehorse airport Monday. (Alexandra Byers/CBC)

Two people are dead following a plane crash in Whitehorse Monday evening, an official with the Transportation Safety Board confirmed.

TSB spokesperson Jon Lee said the plane was a Cessna 170B taking off from Whitehorse bound for Anchorage, Alaska. 

A second TSB spokesperson, Chris Krepski, said the plane was privately-owned and both occupants in the four-seat aircraft died in the crash. He said the plane hit the ground 600 metres from the runway and caught fire.

Krepski said the crash was reported at 5:30 p.m. local time.

On CBC's A New Day Tuesday morning, Krepski said TSB officials don't identify people involved in plane crashes. 

He said small planes are not required to have a black box, and that there are "very few" that do have the flight recorders.

At this stage, the TSB is gathering information from the site, potential witnesses, weather, aircraft maintenance and "any airplane data that could be useful," said Krepski.

He said more information about what went wrong on the single-engine aircraft may become available later Tuesday or Wednesday morning.

Smoke is seen rising from the area of a downed plane near the Whitehorse airport. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

Lee said the TSB is putting together an investigation team from Edmonton to send to Whitehorse. 

"Once we get to the accident site and we're going to take our photos and start to examine the wreckage and collect information from the scene," Lee said.

"The next few days will be predominantly collecting information."

Jessica Harach, an attendant at the nearby Robert Service Campground, said she's used to the sounds of planes taking off and landing at the airport. She said she heard the engine suddenly cut out, but didn't think twice about it until she heard sirens go by.

"You just never think that that's going to happen," she said.

With files from Alexandra Byers, Jane Sponagle and Chris Windeyer