NEAR SUNDRE, Alta. -- Three people were killed after a small aircraft crashed into a farmer's field just west of Sundre, Alta., Friday afternoon, the Transportation Safety Board says.
Every one on board the single engine, four-seat Cirrus SR22 was killed, Mounties said, as they cordoned off the crash site near a grove of aspen. The wreckage and scorched trees were clearly visible from the highway, about 10 km west of the town about 130 km northwest of Calgary.
"We don't know where the plane was coming from or going to, unfortunately," said Sundre RCMP Const. Wes Bensmiller.
"When we got here it was just scorched trees and smouldering fire -- the plane was completely destroyed."
Emergency crews arrived too late to rescue any of the individuals, all adults, believed to be on board the plane.
Bensmiller said someone in the area called 911 just before 2 p.m. to report a possible crash.
"We have interviewed him, but I can't comment on what he saw because I haven't seen his statement," he said.
"He did see the plane go down."
He added it appeared at some point there was a fire or explosion.
The scene is not far from an airfield but police could not say if the aircraft might have been heading there or anything about the identities of the individuals aboard.
Two investigators from the Transportation Safety Board were en route from Edmonton to begin looking into the crash, said spokesman Chris Krepski.
"They will be gathering information about the aircraft, the maintenance history, the pilot's history, training records and anything like that," he said.
"Looking at weather, air traffic control communications, you name it trying to gather as much information as we can right now to assess what level of investigation we're going to do.
"They need a little bit of time to get on the ground and get their bearings."
The plane wasn't from the Sundre Flying Club, said member Alf Bicknell, who described the Sundre airport as well-used for its size.
"We have something like 3,500 operations off this airport in a year here," he said.
"We have (1,300-metres) of runway, we have a Global Navigation Let-Down Approach on the airport as well and it's all hard surface.
"We have lights for night operation."
Bicknell said the airport is a common fuel stop for pilots.
"We get quite a few Americans coming down from Alaska," he said.
-- With files from Michael Wood