An engine company was en route to the airport when its members witnessed the crash, Corthier said.
“Our arrival on the scene was immediate. Our working to get the occupants out started immediately. We were able to get some of the occupants out of the plane right away,” Corthier said.
A National Transportation Safety Board investigator arrived on the scene Sunday night.
Part of the neighborhood southwest of the airport was evacuated after the crash, and Corthier said it was possible some residents would return to their homes Sunday night.
Electricity was cut off to part of the neighborhood.
Mike Daigle, executive director of the St. Joseph County Airport Authority, said the jet attempted a landing about 4:15 p.m., went back up and maneuvered south to try another landing, but eight minutes later the airport learned the plane was no longer airborne.
“There was an indication of a mechanical problem,” Herwig said.
Stan Klaybor, who lives across the street from the crash scene, said the jet clipped the top of one house, heavily damaged a second, and finally came to rest against a third. Neighbors did not know if a woman living in the most heavily damaged house was home at the time, and a young boy in the third house did not appear to be seriously injured, Klaybor said.
“Her little boy was in the kitchen and he got nicked here,” Klaybor said, pointing to his forehead.
His wife, Mary Jane, regularly watches planes approach the airport.
“I was looking out my picture window. The plane's coming, and I go, `Wait a minute,' and then, boom,” she said.
“This one was coming straight at my house. I went, `Huh?' and then there was a big crash, and all the insulation went flying,” she said.
Associated Press writers Ken Kusmer in Indianapolis and Chuck Bartels in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.