Small Plane Crashes Into Transmission Tower in Maryland

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A small plane crashed into a transmission tower in Maryland on Sunday, knocking out electricity to roughly 117,000 customers as rescuers raced to extricate the two people on board who were trapped about 100 feet above the ground, the authorities said.

The pilot, Patrick Merkle, 65, of Washington, and the passenger, Jan Williams, 66, of Louisiana, did not appear to be seriously injured, Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, said on Sunday.

He said the authorities had been in contact with the two people as the aircraft dangled in the power lines and tower. Chief Scott Goldstein, of the county fire and rescue service, said in a news conference on Sunday night that officials had told the pilot and the passenger to conserve battery life on their phones in order to communicate with rescuers.

Mr. Piringer said the pilot and passenger had been flying to Montgomery County Airpark, an airport near Gaithersburg, Md., about 40 miles west of Baltimore. The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane, a single-engine Mooney M20J, had departed from Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., on Sunday.

It remained unclear what led to the crash, which happened in Montgomery Village, Md., around 5:40 p.m. and made for unusual photos by residents and officials on social media. The images and videos showed the plane entangled in power lines and seemingly suspended in the air in a snarled mess of metal.

By 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, officials had devised a rescue plan, Chief Goldstein said: First, crews will go up the tower and ensure the wires have no residual power. The crews will place cables on the wire and transfer any static electricity to a ground source, he said.

Another crew will then use bucket trucks — which are vehicles used to elevate workers — or an “extraordinarily large crane” to access the aircraft, secure it to the tower and remove the pilot and the passenger, Chief Goldstein said.

“It’s not going to be stable until it’s chained and strapped in place,” Chief Goldstein said. “Any movement, any accidental movement, could make the circumstance worse.”

To make matters more difficult, dense fog in the area was worsening visibility, Chief Goldstein said, and would “make things more wet and slippery.”

By 10 p.m., bucket trucks had arrived at the scene and crews were preparing to embark on what officials expected to be a risky operation that would take hours. At one point, more than 100 fire and rescue workers were at the site.

“We are taking measured and risk-balanced steps to approach this,” Chief Goldstein said.

Pepco, the energy company in Maryland affected by the crash, said on Twitter that it was “awaiting clearance to the scene before crews can begin work to stabilize the electric infrastructure and begin restoring service.”

In addition to the dangerous rescue operation, officials and residents were contending with an adjacent problem: Wide swaths of the county, which has about one million residents, remained without power on Sunday night, and officials were unsure how long restoration would take, given the extensive damage to the tower.

The Montgomery County Public School System said that because more than 40 of its schools and six office facilities were without power on Sunday night, it would consider canceling classes on Monday. Two hospitals in the area, MedStar Montgomery Medical Center and Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, were operating at limited capacity on Sunday because of the outages, Chief Goldstein said.

Mr. Piringer said there were already reports of stalled elevators and malfunctioning traffic lights on Sunday night.

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