Montague Firefighter Dennis Roesler, left, and White Lake Fire Authority Captain Peter McCarthy place a ladder against the boundary fence at the Whitehall water tower to gain access to the plane wreckage. A small plane struck the tower and burst into flames before falling to the ground at the base of the tower.

A private plane struck the Whitehall water tower near the intersection of Warner St. and Sophia St. at 11:41 a.m. today.

The crash occurred across the road from the main Whitehall District Schools campus which includes the middle school and community center with pre-school.

The plane burst into flames upon impact, according to witnesses.

The wreckage was mostly contained within the boundary fence surrounding the water tower. A small dent and scorch mark can be seen on the water tower where it was struck.

Whitehall schools immediately alerted parents about the incident and that their children were safe. However, it is believed some children on the football field witnessed the crash.

First responders are still at the scene, but the flames were quickly extinguished.

Whitehall Police said the pilot has been identified, but a name will not be released until the family is notified.

A witness said he approached the plane moments after the crash, but could not get close because of the flames and smoke.

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