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Small plane crashes into Florida autism center, 2 dead

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Two people, including the pilot, are dead after a small plane crashed through the roof of a Florida building that contained a therapy center for autistic children. Eight teachers and five children were in the building when the plane crashed, Battalion Chief Steven Gollan, a spokesman for the Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department, told CBS News.

Local media say that the crash occurred Saturday afternoon near the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport and caused a fire. Both passengers in the Cessna 335 were killed. 

Positive Behavior Supports Corp. regional director Claudia Axelrod told CBS Miami the "front door was on  fire and was blocked by the debris." She said "the roof caved in on them," but the teachers protected the children

Axelrod said that out of eight staff members who were inside, one was hurt but not seriously. One of the teachers suffered minor injuries as she ushered the children from the building, but she was not hospitalized.

"They acted like heroes. They sure did. We are very thankful," Axelrod said.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Administration arrived Saturday evening. A cause of the crash won't be determined, possibly for months.

"We saw the black smoke. There were only one or two police cars here at the time," Dan Rankin said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the small plane was taking off from the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport was originally heading to Hilliard, which is a town outside of Jacksonville.

The plane crashed around 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

As of Saturday night, the names of the two people who were on board and killed in the crash have not been released. It's also unclear when the plan was manufactured and where.

Even though the building is heavily damaged, Axelrod said that's the least of her concern.

"We are very blessed that everybody was able to go to safety," Axelrod said.

The program leader also mentioned students and staff will be able to get counseling if needed following the plane crashing into the building.

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