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Pilot killed in small plane crash near Athens-Ben Epps Airport, officials say

Here's what we know.

ATHENS, Ga. — A pilot has been killed after a small plane crashed about a quarter of a mile away from the Athens-Ben Epps Airport Wednesday evening, officials said. 

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a single-engine Piper PA-24 crashed east of the airport around 7 p.m. The FAA said the pilot, who was the only one on board, had reported engine problems. 

Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services and Athens Police are also responding to the plane crash. Battalion Fire Chief Nate Moss said firefighters were notified of a plane in distress in the area of Buddy Christian Way and Cherokee Road. 

Moss said seven units with additional mutual aid help responded. Once crews arrived, they saw smoke and the area and knew the plane had gone down. 

"It took us quite a bit of time to actually locate the plane because it was off the beaten path," Moss said. "It was located about a mile and a half off the roadway, we had to navigate to several trails near a creek to finally get to this location, where we determined there was one plane down with a single passenger -- the pilot." 

Moss added they were able to put out the fire from the plane crash with fire extinguishers and water cans. 

"There was no spread to the woods, nothing of concern to residential areas," Moss said. 

The FAA said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be in charge of the investigation. The NTSB told 11Alive they will be headed to the scene Thursday morning. Authorities have not yet identified the pilot killed in the crash.