A pilot is dead after a plane crashed just steps away from an apartment building and shopping centre in Powell River on Monday.

The plane came down in the middle of the town around 11 a.m., crashing in a wooded area near a Safeway at Joyce Avenue and Barnet Street, according to witnesses.

The pilot, who was the only one aboard the twin-engine plane, was killed.

Resident Alex Rawnsley called the intersection near the site of the crash one of the busiest in Powell River.

“Here you’ve got a twin-engine crash in a very public area on a public holiday, right next to a grocery store, right next to the main shopping mall in Powell River,” he said.

Witnesses said the plane came down at a sharp angle, possibly going into a spin before hitting the ground – less than one kilometre from the town’s airport.

“It crashed in a clear portion of a field. There was some brush land behind it, in behind a three-storey apartment building” said Rawnsley.

Emergency crews rushed to the scene and so did witnesses in the area.

Brianne Bentiz said she wasn’t sure what was happening at first when she saw crowds rushing to the scene.

“It was a very unusual thing to walk up to and notice,” she said. “I actually thought it was a bear attack because the bears have been so frequent in the area lately.”

The Joint Rescue Co-Ordination Centre said the man flying the plane was coming from Pitt Meadows and planning to land in Powell River to pick up some passengers.

“Where he landed it, I think he knew he was going down and got it to the safest spot he possibly could’ve, because there was absolutely no other clear spot that he could’ve landed and not hit anything,” said Benitz.

Witnesses said it was overcast with light winds when the plane went down.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating, and there’s no word yet on the cause of the crash.