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Colorado pilot walks away after small plane crashes into house

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - The pilot of a single-engine airplane pulling an advertising banner walked away uninjured after it crashed into an unoccupied home in suburban Denver on Monday and set the building on fire, authorities said.

After emerging from the wreck, the pilot, who is also a firefighter, turned on a garden hose to try to extinguish the blaze, his employer said.

The pilot, whom the authorities have not identified, lost power and crashed into the second story of a house in a residential neighborhood in Northglenn, a Denver suburb, said Sara Farris, spokeswoman for the North Metro Fire Rescue District.

"Thankfully, there were no injuries and no one was inside the residence, and our crews put the fire out quickly," Farris said, adding that investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration were expected to be on the scene later on Monday.

Northglenn police spokesman Ron Haralson said the pilot was uninjured but was taken to a local hospital for observation as a precaution.

Tom Mace, owner of the banner company, Drag 'n' Fly, said the pilot told him by phone that the plane had suffered "a catastrophic power failure."

The pilot, who is a firefighter from another jurisdiction, jettisoned the banner after the aircraft stalled and had been looking to land on a street when he crashed, Mace said.

"After he got out of the plane, he went into firefighter mode and checked to see that nobody was hurt in the house, then turned on a garden hose to try and put out the fire before he was shooed away," Mace said.

The plane was a Piper Pawnee crop-duster that was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration to pull aerial banners, Mace said.

The banner was displaying an advertisement for insurance carrier Geico, he said.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Mohammad Zargham)

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