NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ A small plane crashed into a residential neighborhood this morning, killing at least three people and leaving a fiery trail as it hit two buildings. At least 20 people on the ground were injured.

The single-engine 1964 Beech Bonanza 35 took off from Linden Airport at 10:45 a.m. and was en route to Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said. Air traffic controllers lost radio and radar contact with it five minutes later.

Mayor Sharpe James said three people were killed, all on the plane. The cause of the crash and the identities of the dead were not immediately known.

The plane hit a factory, which was set afire, and broke apart before hitting a fast-food restaurant that was closed. Several witnesses said they saw body parts and plane parts scattered in the area.

``All the cars on the block were on fire,'' said Rhonda Savage, who lives in the neighborhood.

James said an off-duty police officer saw the plane spinning out of control and losing altitude before it crashed. It hit a tree, the factory and three cars as it tried to gain altitude.

The plane finally crashed into a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. The street between the restaurant and the factory was littered with burned cars, one with its roof sheared off. One of the airplane's red-and-white wings was leaning against a small tree near the restaurant.

Ibrhim Hussien, 32, was one of three workers on the first floor of the factory when the plane hit. All three managed to escape without injury. The other two floors were unoccupied.

``I heard something like a bomb,'' he said. ``It shook the building.''

They ran outside, and Hussien saw that ``everything is destroyed outside; the cars, the building.''

Rogers Ramsey, spokesman for University Hospital in Newark, said 20 people who were on the ground _ 18 adults and 2 children _ were admitted for treatment. One man was in critical condition with first and third-degree burns. A woman who suffered burns was listed as fair. The others suffered mostly cuts and minor burns and were expected to be released, Ramsey said.

Fifteen-year-old Quanarah Sims, who lives in an apartment less than a block from the factory, said the crash shook her house.

``We went out and we saw body parts,'' including a severed arm, she said.