KENAI, ALASKA, DEC. 23 -- A commuter plane carrying seven people lost power in one of its two engines after takeoff and crashed into a house today, killing four passengers and the pilot, officials said.

The survivors of the Southcentral Air crash were flown to a hospital in Anchorage for treatment of severe burns. The house, owned by an elderly couple, was gutted by fire.

Southcentral Air runs several flights daily between Anchorage and Kenai Peninsula communities 70 miles away.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Paul Steucke said the pilot reported engine failure after taking off from Kenai Airport and circled to attempt an emergency landing. The plane went down a half-mile from the airport about 6:10 a.m.

Walt Peteet said he was in his bedroom when the plane hit another part of the house. His wife, Esther, was knocked off a couch by the impact.

"I think the tail hit," Walt Peteet said. "There was a hell of an explosion . . . . We got out through the front door. It was terrible to get out through the fumes and smoke."

He said he saw one survivor "dazed and burned but able to walk." Police Sgt. Roger Dorcas said the two survivors climbed from the burning wreckage and made their way out of the house to the yard, where they met the Peteets.

Donald Spurgeon, 40, of Kena, was listed in critical but stable condition with second- and third-degree burns over 25 percent of his body, and Jerry Huff, 31, of Soldotna, was reported in serious condition with hand cuts and second-degree burns on his face, authorities said.

Spurgeon and three of the dead were Arco Alaska Inc. employes on their way to make a connection for the Kuparuk oil field on the North Slope, an Arco spokesman said.

Arco identified the dead employes as Spurgeon's brother, Jim, 38, of Nikiski; Ira Garner, 55, of Kenai, and Mark Ayers, 33, of Kenai. The fifth victim's name was not released.

A Southcentral spokesman identified the pilot as Jim Devine of Anchorage. He said Devine, in his mid-50s, had been with the airline six months but had more than 15,000 hours of flying time.