A small private airplane crashed into a building near Smith-Reynolds Airport Friday night and exploded, killing the four passengers aboard the aircraft, authorities said.

Officials at the airport did not confirm the deaths, but a firefighter who refused to identify himself told the Greensboro News & Record that everyone on the plane was killed.The single-engine Piper Cherokee had just taken off before the 9:20 p.m. accident, which happened about a quarter of a mile from the airport, officials said.

A three-story Jepson Burns Corp. building caught fire after the accident, officials said. The workers inside the one-story building escaped safely, according to Mike Kingsbury, an employee of Jepson Burns. The fire was extinguished within 20 minutes.