A PILOT died after their plane crashed and caught fire.

Fire crews were called to the scene in Herring Lane near Heathfield shortly after 11am today.

Teams rushed to the crash site and extinguished the aircraft using foam, but the pilot could not be saved.

A spokeswoman for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said: “At 11:05, firefighters from Heathfield, Uckfield, Battle and Wadhurst attended Herrings Lane in Heathfield following reports of a light aircraft crash.

“Crews used one in seven foam to extinguish the fire.”

The Argus:

A witness, who did not want to be named, said the plane went down not far from a small airfield nearby.

They said: “A pilot had an accident. They had problems during take-off and landed a couple of fields away from the runway.

“The fire brigade came but the plane was already on fire.

The Argus:

“Nobody could do anything about it.”

Police and ambulance crews were also called to the scene and remained in the area for more than five hours.

South East Coast Ambulance Service said it sent “a number of resources” to the site.

LIVE BLOG: Updates as police and fire crews respond to plane crash near Heathfield

A police officer was stationed at the entrance to Herring Lane, which led to the crash site. The lane was closed as emergency services dealt with the incident.

Shortly before 4pm, Sussex Police confirmed that the pilot of the plane involved in the crash had died.

A spokesman said: “The pilot of a light aircraft sadly died when his plane crashed near Heathfield this morning.

“Emergency services were called to the scene off Herrings Lane at 11.01am where the aircraft had caught fire after crashing. Unfortunately, the pilot is believed to have died instantly. His next-of-kin have been advised.”

The force said the matter has now been passed on to the Air Investigation Branch (AAIB) for investigation.

The government organisation is responsible for “investigating civil aircraft accidents and serious incidents within the UK, its overseas territories and crown dependencies”.

An AAIB spokesman said: “Our purpose is to improve aviation safety by determining the circumstances and causes of air accidents and serious incidents, and promoting action to prevent reoccurrence.”